WASCO addresses water woes in the south

Wasco took journalists to see the work they have done at Beausejour in Vieux Fort.

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get a consistent water supply when you need it most. A solution to water woes in the south was the reason for a recent visit by media personnel to Wasco’s Beausejour, Vieux Fort plant this week. The Water and Sewage Company in an effort to shed light on some of the very real problems that constantly interrupted water supply in the south gave the media a first-hand look, in the form of an expedition that required rain boots and an open mind to see how the company intended to fix problems facing its consumers.
In normal circumstances we’d all have had to swim in order to be able to conduct interviews in the very spot where we stood comfortably in the old intake, with nothing more than a trickle of water at our feet. The extremely silted intake at their Beausejour Plant had certainly seen better days and still hadn’t quite recovered from the ravages of hurricane Tomas in 2010. In fact, due to a number of factors, every time it rained the intake would become silted and the Water and Sewage Company would find themselves in a position of not knowing where to turn leaving thousands of southern St Lucian residents without water.
In an effort to address troublesome water issues Wasco’s recent efforts have been concentrated to the south of the island, where the company has already been able to redesign their intake at Grace to provide a more reliable supply of water to residents.
“The Beausejour plant has been refurbished,” representatives from the company elaborated. “There is a new intake, intended to serve as a back up and with this new intake and the improvements at Beausejour, the constant interruptions in the water supply to Vieux Fort, Laborie, Augier and other areas in the south will be reduced significantly.”
“As you know after Tomas we suffered a significant loss of volume and we still battle with this situation any time it rains,” Wasco public relations officer Clinton Reynolds told the STAR. “So what the guys had to do was build a new intake to get a more pristine source of water to supplement what we had from the first intake.  We brought you in to show you what has been done in terms of work, and also to give the people, especially from the south an idea of why we have been experiencing the water problems we’ve been experiencing in the past. As you can tell from our trek from Beausejour it is no easy feat to get water from here. It takes a lot and I want to applaud the staff of Wasco who have been working tirelessly to ensure we supply the south and all other parts of the island with water on a regular basis.
“Some of the problems we’ve been experiencing are not our fault and we wish they were different,” Reynolds continued. “It’s rivers we’re dealing with and when the river decides it’s going to rise there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to work around it.”
The original, now silted intake is set to be cleared this week, and on Tuesday Wasco representatives made it clear the new catchment was meant to be used mainly for backup purposes since it did not have the capacity to serve the needs of the entire Vieux Fort community.
Despite the fact that every time the intake becomes silted the company is forced to pay significant fees that include excavator and labour costs to cover the two week desilting process, and the reality that unpredictable weather could render their efforts useless immediately after desilting, the company does not have intentions of abandoning the original intake at their Beausejour Plant.
“We’re not ready to give up on the original intake which had been the main source of water for the Vieux Fort community for a number of years,” a company official explained. “Both intakes are necessary, but there will be design changes in the coming weeks.”

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