Minister: 2024 will be ‘busy year’ for WASA

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Councillor for Morne Coco/Alyce Glen Lisa Richards Cole, Diego Martin Central MP Symon de Nobriga, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, and a Simeon Road resident pose in front of the the newly refurbised Simeon Road booster station following its commissioning on December 16. – Paula Lindo

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said announcements will be made regarding the restructuring of the leadership structure of WASA in early January. He reiterated that workers at the lower level of the organisation would not be impacted at this stage.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Simeon Road booster station in Diego Martin on Saturday, Gonzales said the focus at the time was on the leadership and management of WASA.

“The government believes that, as we seek to bring about the necessary transformation of the organisation, as we make investments in infrastructure like this, that we also need to put in place the leadership within the WASA that embodies the vision that we have. That will continue the great work we’re doing to bring about the improvements we’ve started.”

Gonzales said over 20 booster stations had been constructed over the last two to three years, with over 120 pumps refurbished over the last year. He said many booster stations had been operating under capacity, especially the ones in hilly terrain.

“Many times when people complain about not having water, it’s not because of the supply, it’s because the pumps are not working, the pumps are down, the standby pumps are not in operation and take long to be repaired. And when they’re down, people go weeks and months without water.”

He said WASA was back to 90 per cent reliability with its booster stations, with over 60 per cent of the population having a 24/7 supply of water, up from 32 per cent three years ago, and 90 per cent having access to pipeborne water in some form.

He said based on work WASA is planning in 2024, targeting areas like Icacos, Cedros and Mayaro, Moruga, he felt confident by the end of 2024, over 75 per cent of the population would have a 24/7 supply of water.

He said 2024 would be a busy year for the ministry, who in 2023 had been targeting underserved communities.

“We have designed other projects targeting other underserved communities, specifically in Granville, Cedros, Icacos, Mayaro, Moruga, Penal, Siparia, San Francique, some parts of Sangre Grande, and Toco. Those are the areas that will be our main focus. Over the last year we have been doing a lot of engineering assessment and planned the interventions needed to allow these communities to enjoy a reliable supply of water. We have been studying these areas, we understand the challenges, and have designed projects and programmes to make the necessary interventions, and we expect to complete those by the end of 2024.

“We are looking at constructing small-package water-treatment plants in Moruga, Mayaro, and in Ravine Sabe in Central Trinidad. We have awarded contracts for drilling a number of wells in Mayaro, in Aripo, in Granville. So far we have stabilized the ground flow in the Cedros area and expect one well to come into production in January and two months after, two production wells will come into production in that Granville area, benefitting 8,000 people in that region. We expect that by March 2024, that region will be brought closer to a 24/7 supply of water.”

Gonzales noted that, based on the areas mentioned, the ministry was not discriminating on the grounds of politics, race, or ethnicity.

“We are targeting areas because we are all citizens of TT and we honestly believe that every citizen, regardless of your race, religion, sexual orientation, sex, whatever it is, you are entitled to a supply of water.”

He said the ministry had almost $1 billion in resources available to it in 2024, of which $3-400 million was allocated under development in the national budget and another US$80 million or $500 million through an IDB loan programme.

Gonzales said announcements would be made early next year about the proposed increase in TTEC rates.

“We are liaising with TTEC about the electricity rates. We have requested further information from TTEC as well as the Regulated Industries Commission and once all of that is analysed, by the end of the year, early next year, we will have some activities taking place.”