The people of Sabbath Hill are suffering regular water rationing due to the diversion of water towards Balsam Ghut, according to Transportation, Works and Utilities Minister Kye Rymer.
The disclosure came in response to one of several water-related questions opposition members asked Mr. Rymer and Premier Andrew Fahie during the May 17 House of Assembly meeting.
Responding to Opposition Leader Marlon Penn (R-D8), Mr. Rymer said that the water infrastructure in the Sabbath Hill area is in the design phase and that the Water and Sewerage Department is working to finish the project by the next budget cycle.
Opposition member Julian Fraser (R-D3) also grilled Mr. Rymer on the Sabbath Hill rations, asking why the Bar Bay water plant, which has a production capacity of 500,000 gallons a day, is not being utilised to supply water to Balsam Ghut reservoir.
Mr. Rymer responded that pumping water uphill from Bar Bay to Balsam Ghut creates too much pressure and results in breakages.
The Sabbath Hill Reservoir, he said, provides “more efficient pressure management” to reach Balsam Ghut.
Mr. Fraser countered that the Bar Bay plant was intended to service the Balsam Ghut reservoir and called for the pump in Greenland to be “fixed and operational.”
Mr. Rymer said he would take his advice and look to fix the situation.
He also said that the people serviced by the Hannah Hill reservoir are still operating on a water schedule, which he admitted after prodding by Mr. Fraser amounted to a “rationing” of water.
In response to another question, Mr. Rymer revealed that $1.6 million was allotted to the Water Network Improvement Project to improve water management systems and that $337,000 has been spent to date.
Mr. Fraser said that if those figures were correct then there would be $1.3 million left, but pointed out that according to the figures Mr. Rymer provided in an appendix, only $1,039,000 was left.
“So where did the $300,000 go?” he asked.
Mr. Rymer said he did not know and would look into the matter for the next sitting.
These numbers were further drawn into question when Mr. Fahie said in response to questions from Mr. Fraser that only $281,128 of the $1.6 million has been spent to date, which Mr. Fraser pointed out contradicted the $337,000 figure that Mr. Rymer provided.
Mr. Fahie blamed the discrepancy on an error on the part of a government employee.
“I’m getting to believe that somebody’s not doing their work or they don’t take the House of Assembly seriously,” he said, and added that he would try to confirm the exact figure.
Mr. Fahie also provided a written breakdown of how and where the funds were spent up to May 15.
That breakdown has not yet been made public, though HOA Public Relations Officer Linton Leonard said on May 21 that he would distribute all supporting documents as soon as he received them.
Mr. Fraser also pushed the premier on when the full $3.5 million allotted to address the territory’s water issues would be fully utilised.
Mr. Fahie countered by saying the problem was not the amount of money spent, but how the money was being managed.
“I’ve been in this House for 20 years and I’ve seen the money given and then when the year ended and they said they need a pump,” he said. “I see the next year they give them the pump and … they came back another year and said the pipes were broken.”
He added that the water management system needs a “comprehensive overhaul” to determine the exact issues before allocating funds.
“The money for me is not the largest part of the problem,” he said. “It is knowing what the problem really is so that we don’t throw good money at bad planning.”
Mr. Rymer also gave other updates on water systems in response to questions.
He said that public water is now available to residents in the Greenland area from Courtney Gordon’s apartments leading to the top of the hill.
He also stated that the pumps that government had promised two years ago to install around Foncy’s and Ellis Thomas Downs were never purchased because they were found not to be a “practical approach.”
“A better approach,” he said, “would be to implement a pressure management programme which will be undertaken during the Ridge Road Water Programme.”
Mr. Rymer also told Mr. Fraser that the Diamond Pump Station electrical supply was completed in December 2018 and that the building for the Long Trench Pump Station has been completed and that tender documents are being finalised to procure the mechanical, electrical and plumbing supplies.
In regards to the “pump house,” he said Outer Limits Trucking and Garbage Disposal constructed it, and that the pumps for the facility are currently on island and that “installation is pending the procurement of the additional mechanical components.”
“My technical team has informed me that the before-mentioned upgrades are expected to double water flows, provide a more reliable water supply, and eliminate water distribution sharing in the Third District,” he said.