El Paso residents call out contractor on partially serviceable $5.1M water well
…GWI will not accept well in current state – Minister Croal
By Lakhram Bhagirat
The Region Eight (Potaro – Siparuni) community of El Paso is now being forced to wait longer to access potable water, because a well recently drilled by a contractor for the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) can supply only the school, not the residents.
Residents reached out to this publication and reported that the well that was drilled in the community encountered very little water, and cannot service the community. In fact, they are claiming that the project, which cost over $5 million, was a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.
When contacted, Mayor of the township of Mahdia, David Adams, said the municipality had contributed several million dollars to the project from its Government subvention. He said that despite the Council contributing funds to the project, the council had no oversight thereof, since the work was being executed by a contractor employed by GWI.
“The guys did dig a well there, but when they dug the well, it was not producing the amount of water that was needed to serve the community. My last information was that GUYWA (GWI) was looking at acquiring additional funds to see if they can dig another well, because the one that is there can’t service the community,” the mayor said.
Adams told Guyana Times via telephone that the GWI- hired contractor had informed the Council that he would repurpose the well to service just the school.
“What they plan to do is to see if they can use the water there to serve the school alone. They will do something with it so that it can service the school when it is in session, but to service the whole community, it is not producing enough water to do so. What happens when you pump (water from the well) after a couple of minutes (is that) the water dies down and you are not getting enough flow,” Adams said.
The Mayor added that, at this point in time, the Mahdia Town Council is not in a financial position to contribute money to another such project. He noted that that is the reason why GWI officers now have to seek funding, and he explained that it was promised that the process of seeking funding would have commenced about a month ago.
He further explained that GWI had also recently drilled a well at the 7-Miles area, and that is working just fine.
When asked about feasibility studies being done before the commencement of drilling at the El Paso/Tumatumari location, the mayor said that since the Mahdia Town Council is a relatively new and small one, they do not have an engineering department, and as such would rely on executing agencies to do the technical groundwork.
“We still desire a well to be completed in El Paso, but presently we do not have any funds to direct (towards) digging another well,” the mayor said, while stopping short of stating whether the Council would accept the well in its present form.
Will not accept well
Meanwhile, Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal told Guyana Times that the Mahdia Town Council provided $4.5 million to GWI for a new well, with the total cost for the facility being $5.1 million. He explained that the water authority contracted Fox Services to execute the project.
Croal said the well was drilled to a depth of 90 metres with little production, which cannot feed the community, and Fox Services encountered some challenges with its equipment while drilling, and had to return to Georgetown to have it addressed.
The equipment was repaired and they were requested by GWI to mobilise to complete a well in Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima–Waini) within the next three weeks. This was because of the availability of the vessel to transport the drilling equipment. Fox Services is expected to return to drill a new well in El Paso after completing the well in Port Kaituma.
“GWI has not accepted the well, nor has made any payment, since the well is intended to be drilled to a maximum depth of 150 metres. After the well is completed, GWI will be working with the Town Council to connect it to the system,” the Minister said.
The residents have said they undertook the initiative to keep a watchful eye on this project following the call of the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to be the watchdogs of the community. They said that had a proper feasibility study been conducted, taxpayers’ money would not have been wasted.
“While it is good that the school will be getting water, there are only about 20 students at the school. The community is small, and daily attendance is not even 20,” one resident stated.
Another commented, “Spending millions of dollars just to supply the school with water in such a small community is absolutely unbelievable. It’s a total waste of the Government’s money. The contactor must be held accountable.”
“I am happy that the Minister said that GWI will not be accepting the well in its current state. The area has never had potable water…we depend on rain water, river and creek water. There are a few natural springs in the area also. So, when we heard of the GWI project, we were very excited as a community, but this well that the contactor gave us is disappointing,” another resident said.