Water issues for Sweeting’s Cay residents post Hurricane Matthew

K. PETER TURNQUEST, DPM, Minister of Finance

Three-months after Hurricane Matthew, Sweeting’s Cay residents are still without a regular supply of water.


Several Sweeting’s Cay residents reached out to this daily on Tuesday, January 3 and voiced their concerns regarding the lack of regularly flowing water and about a notice posted over a month ago that assured residents they would be provided with water from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and then from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily until the situation is resolved. 


“They have not been keeping to that schedule and the changes are done without any notification to the residents,” claimed Sweeting’s Cay business owner and activist, Fritz Thompson.


Thompson alleged that after the hurricane residents were getting water for just an hour a day, because the generator that had been installed could not produce sufficient power to operate the plant on Sweeting’s Cay. “After two weeks, they finally ran a wire from the nearby clinic’s generator to resolve the initial problem of almost no running water. This was something that could have been done from the very first day,” Thompson maintained.


Another resident of the Cay appealed to the media for assistance, “The residents of Sweeting’s Cay need the media’s help please. The water is turned on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, daily. This has been like this for a few weeks now.


“They are not informing us of  what the actual problem is and it appears nothing is being done,” the resident alleged.


Another lady who owns a home on the Cay, but is presently living in Freeport due to the intermittent water supply, maintained that the situation is really inconvenient.


She alleged that most evenings residents wait patiently for the water supply to come back on as scheduled, only to find the water does not come back on until the next morning. 


“Everyone on Grand Bahama understands how hard it is without water – we all experienced it after the storm. No power, no cable you can cope; but being without water for such a long time is very frustrating,” she said.


When The Freeport News contacted MP for East Grand Bahama, Peter Turnquest for a comment on the schedule for residents of Sweeting’s Cay water supply, he noted how vexing the situation is. “This is an issue I have been instrumental in chasing. We have had some success, but further intervention is needed. At the end of the day, this plant has not been meeting the needs of the residents for quite some time and in addition to low pressure has had intermittent quality issues, rusty water, and high chlorine smell,” Turnquest maintained. 


He added that efforts to have the matter permanently addressed have been frustrating. “The people require a permanent solution now and it may be time to consider connecting the island to the main land as is done for Deep Water Cay, with additional elevated storage capacity to allow for gravity feed through the distribution network.” 


The East Grand Bahama, MP promised he will continue to push Water and Sewage for a long-term solution that will ensure sustainability and comfort to the Cay.


Anthony Bostwick, Area Manager at Abaco Water and Sewage Company that is responsible for Sweeting’s Cay admitted to the inconvenience the situation is causing the residents of the Cay and insists everything is being done to correct the problem in as timely a manner as is possible.


Bostwick told this daily that before anything else is done a professional team must come to the Cay and ensure that there is no underground leak. “They have to come and run all the tests. We definitely have to go that route as nothing is surfacing. The capacity would be sufficient if there was not a leak, so we must find out where the leak is,” Bostwick noted.


The Area Manager assured residents that he strongly supports the upgrading of the Sweeting’s Cay Plant, adding that authorities are in discussions to that end. “As soon as we can assure there is no leak, then we can go to the upgrading,” Bostwick stated.


With regard to allegation of the plant’s inability to keep to the posted schedule, Bostwick said, “If the levels are not met at the plant, the schedule cannot be met. We need the professionals to come as soon as possible, but unfortunately at this time (after Hurricane Matthew) they are in very high demand.”


Bostwick is confident that by the end of this week it will be determined if a leak is indeed underground and by next week he will be on the Cay. “We really want to fix the situation quickly,” Bostwick concluded.


Published  Wednesday, January 4, 2017 

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