No water at Mr Peter’s parlour: taps dry in Maraval hills

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Parts of Celestine Trace, Maraval have not had water in six weeks. Other residents said WASA water has not flowed since May.

Dozens of households pay $300 a week to private distributors to fill their tanks.

WASA says its water trucks cannot ascend the hill.

Celestine Trace rises high into the Maraval hillside overlooking Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church.

Frustrated, the community gathered at Mr Peter’s parlour to air their grievances to Newsday and to test for water in the line. Below a towering balata tree, midway up the hill, the test was done: there was no water.

Water is not usually delivered to homes beyond Peter’s parlour, but for the past six months, not even he gets any.

Thomas Rawlins said, “Like they forget we with water.”

He said of late, residents have to uncover their tanks when it rains to catch the run-off.

Rawlins’ neighbour Peter Mendez, the 84-year-old shopkeeper, said, “Since they put down the standpipe, it’s a monument,” referring to the fact that it is always dry and unusable.

To wash clothes, bathe, and cook, Mendez said he had to pay for a truck of water. “You can’t get the free truck-borne service from WASA,” he said. “When you talk to government workers, is a different story. They say the truck can’t go up the hill. So you have to pay a private truck $300.”

Joseph “Mauby” Celestine said he has been buying water weekly for three months –”Longer than that, but I talking really have to buy.

“We were supposed to get water three days a week. Then they boil it down to Monday and Friday, then Friday alone. Now it’s two six-hour nights – 12 in the night to five in the morning.”

When pipeborne water comes, Celestine said, his two 600-gallon tanks used to get half-filled. He heard homes lower down the hill were getting water, but at a very low pressure.

“Fifty years aback, water was a surety three days a week, whole day. Me eh know what going on now. Right now for the past six months, is the worst.”

Given the dry pipes, Celestine said he is not paying any WASA bill.

Gregorio Felician, who had been in contact with WASA, said the problems started since October last year. WASA told him they were caused by leaks in the area, but it did not have a backhoe.

Felician provided the backhoe and WASA provided the labour. By his account, when work started WASA did not have material and he had to buy what was needed – sand, gravel and a truckload of cement.

“We did everything they requested. After that, they said the pump break down, They fixed it. After that, it was a whole bunch of runaround.”

He said WASA engineers as well as the local MP, Colm Imbert, and Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales were well aware of their plight.

Councillor for the area Andy Felician said upper Celestine Trace never received water in its standpipe. He added that in the recent past, there has been a problem with the pump, so he and the MP have advocated for a new booster pump in Maraval.

“Pumps at present cannot push water to the highest standpipe, (but) once the booster is installed, that area should have regular water.”

He said water woes extended beyond Celestine Trace to neighbouring Clovis Trace and Moraldo as well.

HE said WASA had told him drivers simply cannot manoeuvre the hills of Paramin and environs, because of the size of their trucks and the weight of the water. He said residents have to rely on private contractors because they have smaller trucks, but that issue has to be addressed by WASA.

Corporate communications officer at WASA Daniel Plenty said repairs to one of the defective pumps at the Maraval service station had been completed over the past week.

Despite this, resident Manuelita Feliciane said after nearly four months “she had a full 24 hours of water, but after that, that was it.”

She said it reached her house, but her friend and neighbour who lived just a little higher up, Peter Mendez did not get any.

WASA corporate communications and operations manager Shaira Ali could not be reched for further comment after the partial success of repairs. Calls to MP Colm Imbert were also unanswered.