A newly commissioned water well at Lusignan on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) will see approximately 22,000 residents in surrounding communities benefitting from improved access to treated water.
The $141 million well was commissioned on Tuesday by President Dr Irfaan Ali.
Residents from Grassfield, Lusignan Pasture, Lusignan East, Lusignan West, Annandale, and Courbane Park have already been receiving water from the well, which was operationalised since December 2021.
During his feature address, President Ali said this achievement is in keeping with his Government’s plan to have 100 per cent access to treated water on the coast by 2025. To this end, he noted that since August 2020, the Government has spent some $6.2 billion on the water sector and another $11 billion was earmarked for the next two years.
“We want to ensure that by the time we get to 2025, we have 100 per cent access to good, potable water and efficient supply of water all along the coast. We want to move from a present position where 52 per cent of our people have access to treated water to a position on the course where 100 per cent of our people must have access to treated water, that is, you can take your glass, take the water from the tap and drink it. That is where this investment will take us,” he posited.
Added to this, the Government is also aiming to increase the current 60 per cent access to water in the hinterland and riverine communities up to 100 per cent. As such, the Guyanese leader said 12 new water treatment plants will be established across the country.
President Ali committed to achieving these milestones without any hikes on the water tariff. In fact, he reminded that his Administration removed the Value Added Tax (VAT) from water, reinstated the pensioners’ water subsidy, and reduced the water tariff by five per cent across the board.
“This is what a responsible Government does… In less than six years ago, you had a Government that showed you that their solution was to add a tax on the water and remove the [electricity] subsidy for pensioners. But sometimes, we don’t appreciate the condition under which a Government is delivering,” the President asserted.
Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal told the gathering that the new well is a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to improving potable water access across the country.
In fact, to further enhance water services along the East Coast corridor, Minister Croal disclosed that his Ministry is planning to explore the feasibility of utilising the Hope Canal, which dumps gallons of water into the Atlantic, as a sustainable potable water source.
“This approach is necessary as we confront climate change as well as respond to the growing demands for more service connections,” he stated.
That demand, he noted, is reflected in the fact that since assuming office in August 2020 to the end of 2021, nearly 3000 allocations were made on the East Coast corridor alone.
However, with increasing demands, especially from the various new housing projects that are being undertaken, the Minister further encouraged community members to conserve their water usage and to ensure they report leakages as soon as possible so as to avoid unnecessary wastages.
“Use water with responsibility. This is a valuable resource and it costs a lot to deliver to households,” he stated.
Moreover, Croal further lauded the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) for delivering this project, noting that the construction of this new well was not in the water company’s 2021 budget and work programme.
In fact, Chief Executive Officer of GWI, Shaik Baksh, explained that a well previously built in Lusignan was not properly maintained under the previous Administration hence it collapsed. This resulted in a new well being constructed but its operation was delayed.
“It took too long to get this well up and running… and that belongs the inventory at GWI, over the last five years for a number of reasons, was run down – no pumps, no motors, no good screens, no casings, no materials for new service connections… It took us months to get these items in and this was exacerbated by the production problems overseas,” Baksh stated.
Nevertheless, he said the company is now moving in a proactive manner and has already procured materials for four new wells in order to avoid further delays in the future.
This year, the GWI boss said they are planning to drill at least eight wells on the coast and another 30 in the hinterland, while 16 wells and 10 treatment plants are to be maintained this year.
The newly commissioned well at Lusignan has a design life of 30 years and has achieved a good production of 210 cubic metres of water per hour.