Patterson commissions new water scheme in Westmoreland
Monday, October 08, 2001
PRIME Minister P J Patterson, declaring that water is the lifeblood of a community, last Friday commissioned into service the Southeast Westmoreland/Darliston Water Supply Scheme that will serve more than 29,000 persons in more than 13 communities.
"There is no human activity that can be conducted in the absence of water," Patterson told residents at the official service in Darliston. "Therefore, you cannot measure the value of water simply by calculating it in money terms. You have to look at it in social terms, what it means to our schools, what it means to our health system, what it means when it is causing young people to move away from rural communities," he said.
Patterson was apparently responding to heavy criticism he received after he approved the $627-million project that now serves sections of his constituency.
Said he: "I have been criticised and I have been vilified for daring to sanction a water scheme, not just for Darliston (but) a water scheme for the hills of Westmoreland, for the hills of adjoining St Elizabeth, that our people have access to one of the most basic prerequisites for infrastructural development. But an essential ingredient of life itself is water."
The people of Darliston and adjoining communities in Patterson's Eastern Westmoreland constituency did not have potable water for decades. Prior to the implementation of this water project, their main supplies of water were a well at Whithorn and the Flanders Pond, which supplied a limited number of people. However, over the years, concerns have been raised about the quality of the water obtained from the Flanders Pond and that source was subsequently abandoned.
Since then, water had to be trucked in and deposited in a catchment tank in Beaufort Hill. From there it was gravity-fed to a pumping station which distributed it into small pipelines. This method of supply, however, is said to be woefully inadequate and very expensive.