WASA and farmers accused of stealing water from the state company have “come to an amicable resolution,” Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte has said.
Speaking to Newsday today, Le Hunte said most of the farmers who had been charged have applied for abstraction licences (permits to extract water from waterways and wells), and through a community outreach programme, the authority has encouraged 300 farmers to apply for the licence.
The abstraction licence costs $150.
“Based on agreements I have seen and interventions from community leaders, this matter has been amicably resolved,” Le Hunte said. Wasa was no longer interested in pursuing the matter, but he did note that the matter was heard today in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court earlier. All pumps have been returned to farmers.
He acknowledged the criticism the authority and the ministry had faced since Wasa seized Aranguez farmers’ water pumps earlier this month.
This wasn’t the first time the authority had cracked down on people violating the Wasa Act, he said – the authority was similarly strict in 2013 and 2014. There’s always room for Wasa to improve its communications to the public, he said, but there’s also a responsibility by people to adhere to the law.
Wasa continues to impose hose bans to conserve potable water. “There is a prevailing drought throughout the Caribbean – not just in TT. We are taking action to ensure we have enough water to make it through a dry season that has been predicted to go as far as July,” he said. The end of the dry season is usually at the end of this month. He emphasised that the country’s main reservoirs were below average levels for this time of year. “This continues to be a serious situation and measures to conserve water are paramount,” he said.
Wasa, in a release today, confirmed it had ceased legal action against farmers, and encouraged all farmers who are licensed with the Ministry of Agriculture to apply for the abstraction licence to permit the sanitary use of water.