Jamaica Observer / LUCEA, Hanover – Fritz Francis, the acting deputy chief public health inspector for Hanover, has warned that his department could take legal action against the Hanover Municipal Corporation if it continues to supply untreated water to residents from several of the minor water supply systems under its control in the parish. “At the moment, we have been dialoguing with them (Hanover Municipal Corporation) to see how best they can remedy the situation. And depending on the outcome of the dialogue, the possibilities are that we could take legal action, serve notices to remedy those breaches — because it is very, very serious,” Francis argued.
He added that water from the untreated supply systems could result in an outbreak of waterborne diseases in communities across the parish.
“…And we have the most vulnerable persons feeding off these supplies, children and the elderly. So, that’s a major concern for the health department,” expressed Francis.
The Hanover Municipal Corporation operates approximately 16 minor supply systems across the parish. However, in reports tabled by the Hanover Health Department for the month of November 2017, as well as March, April and May of this year, water samples taken from some of the water supply systems have returned a negative chlorine presence.
Chairman of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, Sheridan Samuels in his response to the damning reports, says his administration is taking steps to have the matter addressed, and has promised that the Hanover Health Department “will not get the chance” to take legal action against the municipality.
“We cannot afford that, because that is great embarrassment, and don’t even speak of the embarrassment itself; the health of the people… we have a responsibility because we are the local board of health, and we have to ensure that it don’t reach that state,” Samuels told the Jamaica Observer West.
“The health department will not get that opportunity to take legal action against us. We are on the ball now, and we are moving to ensure that everything is okay,” he stressed.
Samuels, who is also mayor of Lucea, noted that coming out of concerns raised by the health department with the municipality, efforts are being made to have the affected water supplies treated, adding that “estimates have already been done”.
“Coming out of the concerns from the health department, we are now looking into getting the chlorine and other things required to address the matter,” he disclosed.
He acknowledged that while caretakers are in place for the water supply systems, there is need for more training, noting that the municipality will be asking the ministry of health to assist with the training.
“It is really sad… to inherit these things, because most of the breakdown started from administrations before. But, it has been brought to our attention now and I know we have a responsibility, and we have to proceed to ensure that the lives of the citizens of this parish are not threatened,” Samuels emphatically stated.
Residents of Haddington, who oftentimes get water from the Haddington Entombed Spring, are among those in several communities in Hanover that utilise untreated water.
Area resident Michael Pennycooke has also expressed concern about the quality of water that the residents get from the spring.
“There are a lot of people who go around there (spring) from early in the morning to in the night. You have a lot of people there washing, filling containers for cooking, cleaning — everything. To drink it raises eyebrows because you don’t know what is going inside to the people when they drink the water, because it can be contaminated; and if so, it can cause a lot of health issues to users of the water. So, I think it is important for the health department to raise such an issue,” Pennycooke said.
Pennycooke, who is also the president of the Haddington Community Development Committee, suggested that while some residents may boil the water before use, the municipal corporation needs to assist in educating the public on the importance of treating the domestic product before it is utilised.