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May 9, 2017

Maskall Grapples with Water Problem; Will New System Help?

Maskall Village on the old northern highway is without running water and the Water Board says it is because most of the residents have not paid their monthly water bill.  The electricity bill that accompanies the rudimentary water system has not been paid because the accounts are empty and even those residents who have paid their bill are not receiving potable water. So the entire village has been literally deprived of a basic need.  Back in March 2016, ground was broken for a new water system that is to solve the issues of water pressure and lack of payment, but that won’t come on stream until next month.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco was in Maskall today and spoke with the residents and leaders of the village about the water issue.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Pipes around Maskall have been dry for the past two weeks. Residents are without running water in their homes and have had to resort to wells, the river and even the rain as sources of water. The water was cut off from the entire Village because the water board couldn’t pay the electricity bill tied to the water system – this is simply because more than seventy five percent of the households using the water refuse to pay their water bill of nine dollars per month.

 

Ilda Swift

Ilda Swift, Chair, Water Board, Maskall Village

“For sure the cut is due to people not paying their bills; some getting and some don’t. But that is the problem with it. The next thing with it, the digging of the new line the pipes are breaking up and water cannot flow.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“In this case you have residents who are paying their water bills and they are still not getting water; is this a situation where the good must pay fi the bad?”

 

Ilda Swift

“Well, it have to be because if we can’t come up with the money fi pay the bill – fi pay the electricity – how the wata wah come on? Cause this past month we collect two hundred and something dollars fi the month – operator alone dah two hundred.”

 

The old water system has been in place for more than twenty years. Lack of maintenance, growing population and time have taken a toll on the system – some believe the present day situation should not be happening in 2017.

 

Anthony Vacaro

Anthony Vacaro, Resident, Maskall Village

“This is the worst so far because we had a rudimentary water system and this time it is on a stand.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How much of a step back would you say this is, as one of the founding members of this community?”

 

Anthony Vacaro

“Man. We went all the way back. It rough on the people who have to use buckets to use to other people to get water. The running rudimentary water definitely make a better way of life for you because you just put on your valve; you can go to your garden and spray, but you can’t do that anymore.”

 

And now even those who have paid their bills have had to find ways to get by. And without potable water in their pipe, they have had to find other sources.

 

Elroy Arnold

Elroy Arnold, Resident, Maskall Village

“As you can see I am not so far from the water source, unlike other people who live far away so it is a much more difficult for them. So, I try wah lee pump system and I have to chlorinate water and so to try get it useable.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, you having to set up your own system, did you incur an additional cost with that?”

 

Elroy Arnold

“Well, of course, it affect the light bill. I lose some ah mi day work today the try get mi wife washing and so. So, it does make an impact on us right now.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How are you coping at home?”

 

Leslie Pascascio

“Well, thanks to the rains we had last week. I have some tanks in the back there and the water filled up over the rain, so I am able to use that but once that finished, I don’t know.”

 

German Ramirez

German Ramirez, Principal, Our Lady of Lourdes RC School

“Parents of some children here at our school to lend us their water pumps, water hoses, so that we can fill containers and tank.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, if you didn’t have that kind of assistance, the general rule would be that the school would have to close?”

 

German Ramirez

“Certainly. A school cannot remain open if bathrooms are not functioning because it is against – it creates hygiene problems for our children. So, definitely Maskall will be having a big problem and our school will be forced to shut down should we have no water here; no water facilities.”

 

So, while this old system has been cut off, neither will it be restored. The way it is set up is by way of straight connections to households, so when residents don’t pay their bills, there is no way to completely disconnect the households. But, that will be a problem of the past because the village is getting this brand new water system. In two or more weeks it will be fully implemented. Outdoor pipes have been set up, and the new system will have water meters for each household.

 

Delroy Bennett

Delroy Bennett, Resident, Maskall Village

“Nice. Nice. As you si just now I just drink wah glass fi unu. It got wah nice pressure and that dah the next beautiful thing because the old system was very slow. With this new system, we have real nice pressure.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And the quality of the wata compared to the old one?”

 

Delroy Bennett

“Easy hundred percent better. Easy. Hands down. I would ah wah give it one hundred and ten, but one hundred percent better. No salt. Taste like straight from the tap from the spring. Suh it is a beautiful thing. We nuh have to bathe with the three-fifty purified wata no more. Dah that ah mi have to bathe with because wata mi scarce.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, this system yah come with wah meter; tell mi how you feel about this meter system?”

 

Delroy Bennett

“The quality of the wata, I nuh think that should be no comparison. So, with the quality of the water I nuh think nobody wah trip bout this meter system.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you wouldn’t mind pay wah extra few lee dollars fi get this quality wata?”

 

Delroy Bennett

“Definite.”

 

Leslie Pascascio

Leslie Pascascio

“Right now they are doing a lot of trenching, they are connecting a lot of the household connections.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you think this new system is going to help your villagers?”

 

Leslie Pascascio

“Oh, definitely. And then we will be putting in meters; so every household will have a meter.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“When this new system is fully in place, it means that when those who are paying their bills will not be affected by those who are not?”

 

Leslie Pascascio

“Absolutely. That’s right. That’s right.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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