NWC abandons plan to fix Mandela pipeline

NWC abandons plan to fix Mandela pipeline

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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THE National Water Commission (NWC) says that approximately 18,000 customers in the Corporate Area are experiencing challenges with an intermittent water flow or low pressure.

Corporate Public Relations Manager Charles Buchanan told the Jamaica Observer in an interview yesterday that the major break in the transmission pipeline from Ferry to Six Miles in St Andrew has now been deemed “inoperable”, following an assessment of the line that is 35 feet below the surface of a section of the Mandela Highway.

NWC has abandoned plans to repair the broken pipeline as it would cause significant damage to the existing road infrastructure. The company said it is instead working to fast track plans that are already being implemented in collaboration with the National Works Agency, to replace the Ferry/Rio Cobre/Tulloch Spring pipeline at a cost of $1.5 billion.

“The main issue for us is still that the 18-inch pipeline is still out of operation and won’t be put back into operation. So we are continuing to suffer the deficit. We have tried to put some schedules in place, which have not worked effectively. We continue to tweak those schedules and I know that even today (yesterday), some proposed changes were being made to that schedule to be finalised on and agreed on, which effectively sees the westernmost side of the Corporate Area essentially being supplied on a regulated schedule basis,” said Buchanan.

The NWC manager added that while trucking water is necessary, and that it is being done, it is not the most effective method as there are not enough units to cover the numerous households.

Buchanan also noted that all other measures being pursued to get water to customers are proving difficult or time-consuming.

He said that the communities most affected are the ones that depend primarily on the 18-inch pipeline, which sourced their water.

“What we have had to do is to try to utilise other water supply systems to try to supply, on a scheduled basis, some level of service into these areas which, the process, if you are moving from another system, that may also result in some of those customers served by [that] system that you are now extending its service area to also get interrupted supplies,” he said.

Buchanan mentioned that scheduling is done after an assessment of the hydraulic network and how the pipelines are laid out. He also said that it is done according to existing systems and the location of interconnections.

“You look at what is possible and you try to be as effective as you can. You have some limitations because, to keep the pipeline network active, you use up a lot of water just to fill these pipelines. So even if we say we will be trying to distribute water to this area between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm, even if we do everything we can on the system, exactly, precisely, it takes some time for the pipeline to charge and for some persons, depending on where they are, to get water,” Buchanan stated.

“We are working to adjust that schedule to see how we can improve the convenient levels and improve the pressure with which water gets to some persons. We have received complaints from a number of areas that the water comes at such a low pressure that it doesn’t get to their tanks, so they are hardly much better off. We are now working to see how we can get water to a maximum number of persons,” he added.

Customers affected are primarily in Duhaney Park, Cooreville Gardens, Patrick City, Washington Gardens coming along the Boulevard, Molynes Gardens, Molynes Road, parts of Olympic Way, and Bay Farm Road.

— Kimone Francis

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