Waiting on water

Continuing problems with water haunt TT well into the rainy season, with even the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) wishing it would rain and fill its reservoirs. Even as rains brought flood waters, a ruptured pipe in east Trinidad will bring water shortages to Arima, Arouca and D’Abadie, and WASA announced patrols to police water-use breaches. That must come as strange news to citizens living close to the Ortoire and Oropouche rivers who have been placed on an orange level riverine flood alert.

In La Fortune in Woodland, at least one family brought their animals into their homes as floodwaters rose. This is the second year that severe flooding has affected the area and residents point to grading on the banks of a nearby river as a cause of the problem.

In Penal/Debe floodwaters rose to five feet in some areas and even after much of it had drained away, some areas remained under three feet of water until Friday. It's as if the nation were being asked to live a land-based version of Samuel Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in which a sailor adrift ponders, "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink." 

The continued inability of WASA to respond to this continuing dichotomy is puzzling. Floodwaters cannot replace the major water-capture dams of this country, but they might help service the nation's need for grey water, used widely for agriculture and heavy industry.

After the appalling flooding at Greenvale Development a year ago, the Housing Development Corporation undertook the expansion of retention ponds in the area to control flooding. On Thursday, an HDC team visited the area to distribute sandbags and added four more pumps to the retention pond to cope with rising waters.

The ponds need fortification according to Greenvale residents, and are filling with muddy slush that makes them inefficient when they are most desperately needed. But that's one state agency building a retention pond system to make amends to their customers who bought homes in good faith only to find themselves living in an ongoing drainage problem.

An angry Ramkissoon Rampersad wants WASA to pay him for his losses at La Fortune.

"WASA keep saying that all the water belongs to them," he said.

In a way, the angry man, whose home was flooded out, is right. Clear trends of flooding have not prompted the creation of any major retention ponds that might capture water left to run muddily off to sea despite decades of flooding.

WASA's job is water management and that goes beyond its dams and waterways and demands inventive thinking and foresight in its handling of water from all sources.


"Waiting on water"

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