Flooding to dry taps: Greenvale water woes

Tyrese Mc Millan takes a bucket of water to his home in a three-floor apartment in phase three Greenvale Park, La Horquetta. -
Tyrese Mc Millan takes a bucket of water to his home in a three-floor apartment in phase three Greenvale Park, La Horquetta. -

In 2018, there was too much water when flooding devastated homes in Greenvale Park, La Horquetta.

Two years on, residents are experiencing water woes again. But this time, it's a water shortage in phase three of the Housing Development Corporation community.

Anna Gittens has lived there in an apartment building in phase three for five years. She is disabled and spends most of her time in bed and being taken care of by her son. It's been nearly three months since she has had a regular water supply.

“Since I am here, this is the worst I have ever gone through. I get water from the fire service sometimes or we ketch water by the standpipe. I am disabled and can only go on the wheelchair when my son puts me on it. It’s hard. It started in March. We use to get water on the scheduled days – Tuesdays Thursday and Saturday," she said.

"We would get water to full the tanks on the top (roof of the fourth floor) but lately we haven’t been getting it reaching the top. Sometimes you get water for 15 minutes and then it gone.”

Gittens was one of the hundreds of residents who were affected by the 2018 flood.

“Since the water got into the walls from the flood. The walls are very cold and it affects me and I wasn’t even able to get up for a long time after,” she said.

Now dry taps are her worry.

A man carries a barrel to take to the ground floor to fill with water for his apartment at Greenvale Park, La Horquetta. PHOTOS BY ANGELO MARCELLE -

“You are not getting water but you still have to pay your water bill because they (Water and Sewerage Authority) will cut (your line),” she said.

While Gittens has her son to go collect water, others are not as fortunate and must walk down four flights to a make-shift pipe.

Residents suggested a "water farm" where HDC installed nine 450-gallon tanks for the fire services to use in emergencies could be used instead to provide them with water. However, they claimed the tanks have been empty for more than a year and said the pump is in need of repairs.

There are eight apartment buildings in phase one. Each building has four floors, with two apartments on each floor. Each apartment is connected to a 400-gallon tank on the top of the building. Currently, all of the buildings do not have water.

Water tanks are seen on the red roofs of apartments (background) in phase three, Greenvale Park, La Horquetta. In the foreground are tanks in a "water farm". -

Residents said when they contacted WASA, they were told that the issue would be resolved by the HDC.

In response to the residents' concerns, HDC corporate communications manager Dike Noel said, “There was an issue that was identified. Both parties, (WASA and HDC) went on site together and they determined what the cause of the issue was and they are addressing it.

"A number of the tanks have been serviced over the course of the last few weeks and we have been informing them of such. In terms of the actual water supply, that would be out of the HDC’s remit. We would follow up on it.”

Residents said they are also concerned about the impact of the water shortage on the visually-impaired and disabled members of the community. At least one apartment has three people who are visually-impaired.

Keisha Pierre 42, who is visually-impaired, said, “It’s terrible. We have to use the car to go the pipe in ‘Westmooring Greenvale’ (phases one and two). We carry about four buckets and use a basin to dip because as they say, don’t waste water. This has been going on since March. I have one child here. We are affected by this badly.”

Phase three residents said phases one and two always have a regular water supply. On a visit to phases one and two residents were seen power-washing their yards. Some people were bathing in a swimming pool, while some were mixing cement for renovations.

Dry taps in Bellbird, Malabar

Another HDC community in east Trinidad has a similar water problem.

North of La Horquetta, over the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, is phase three of the Malabar residential community in Arima.

Bellbird (west) is one of the areas in phase three. The residents told Newsday their potable water supply came from a water farm with 12 450-gallon tanks . They said the tanks were operational for three months before the pumps stopped working. They claimed that instead of repairing the water farm, the tanks were being taken to other areas in east Trinidad.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said, "There were no contractors to maintain the pumps, so the supply we got from it didn’t last long. I initially bought tanks to supply my home but I was convinced not to by neighbours. They reassured me that the tank farm would be repaired. So I sold my tanks."

However, the resident said he bought three tanks when the water shortage persisted.

"I’m still waiting on it (water farm) to be repaired. Last year, a bush fire burnt all the wiring connected to the abandoned tanks. It hasn’t been repaired as yet. It’s tough to pay WASA and come home to my three empty water tanks. I sometimes pay $800 to get some water in the tanks.

When asked about the water shortage in the Malabar community, Noel said the matter would be looked into.

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