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Jun 29, 2001

Water shortage hurts homes, businesses

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Complaints continue to mount as the transition from old water system to new has resulted in daily water outages throughout much of Belize City. While News 5 and the rest of the media has amply covered the technical woes of the water company, tonight we look at the plight of consumers forced to confront the exasperating reality of dry sinks, tubs and toilets.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

The week long water shortage has dampened the spirits of many Belize City residents. It seems that only now have Belizeans realised the value of the precious resource. While virtually every household has been affected, certain businesses heavily dependent on water are being hit particularly hard.

The Belize Dry Cleaners and Laundromat is one of them. Manager, Justina Cuthkelvin, says the water shortage is frustrating.

Justina Cuthkelvin, Manager, Bz. Dry Cleaners & Laundromat

“We call WASA and ask them at what time the water will be back. Sometimes that tell us 12:00 and the water doesn’t come until about 7:00 in the night. I have customer’s clothes that I have to deliver at a certain time, and that’s what got me frustrated because this never used to happen before and all of a sudden I have to deal with this situation now.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Are frustrated because the water is off or because they don’t stick to the time that they say they will put the water on?”

Justina Cuthkelvin

“Both of them. If you are saying 12 o’clock, 12 o’clock is 12 o’clock.”

The laundromat is not the only section which depends on water.

Lascelle Arnold, Owner, Bz. Dry Cleaners and Laundromat

“The water to make up the steam that we want at six hundred degrees, we have to use water in the boiler, so the minute we run out of water we have to shut down the dry cleaning section. Then even for tuxedo rentals, to press the tuxedos and to dry clean them, even that, so the three businesses it affects.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“So how are you coping in a season of graduations and weddings?”

Lascelle Arnold

“We have to make alternative arrangements where we buy water at five times the price from a supplier. So for us to operate it’s costing us five times the price.”

Imagine what will happen if there is a fire where using water is a must. Fire Chief Henry Baizar admits the service has only three fire trucks which store twelve thousand gallons of water each.

Henry Baizar, Fire Chief

“When we go to fight a fire where there is no water source, we will have to use one truck at any given time. So we won’t be able to go out maximum and try to put the fire out as quick as possible. Unless we get there and it’s a small fire then we can go maximum. Once we get there and it’s a big fire, then we’ll have to use the water sparingly, one truck at a time to give the truck that empties first to go back either to the sea or the canal to refill and come back before we run out of water.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Are there particular areas of the city that will be a hazard?”

Henry Baizar

“Of course. We have areas like Faber’s Road extension where there are lots of houses and there is no canal, the sea is too far away, even with the amount of hoses we have on our trucks. So that will be a great concern for us. There’s other areas, even though we have some over three thousand feet of hoses on our trucks, it will create some problems for us simply because we got to run out all these hoses.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“A lot of these areas are fire prone areas too, like the Faber’s Road area.”

Henry Baizar

“That’s true. And the length of time it will take me to get out the hose, it’s a bit of a problem for us. So we hope that this situation will be sort out as quick as possible.”

Virginia Foreman, who manages Suzette’s Hair Expression is also hoping that the water shortage will be solved as quickly as possible.

Virginia Foreman, Manager, Suzette’s Hair Expression

“What we do in the mornings is we try to get the tubs, the buckets filled, the bathtubs filled, everything filled so we’ll be able to have water throughout the day. For the kitchen it’s the same, we fill all the water bottles, all the pots and pans that we have.”

Elvira August, Housewife

“Well it’s dirty washing right now, one lather and rinse. Bathing is a problem. Sometimes you can’t even take a bath for the day, so it’s really terrible right now. And with a young baby, it’s stress, really stressful.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“You were up from early trying to get your water to wash at this time?”

Elvira August

“No, because the baby was giving trouble, so I had to tend to him in the nigh. So I got up like six this morning and the water was pouring slow, so I got about two buckets.”

In the meantime, Cuthkelvin says she’s losing business.

Justina Cuthkelvin

“Especially like yesterday, you had to tell the customers there was no water, if they were going to leave their laundry or what they were going to do? Most of them choose to take their laundry back home.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

Belize City residents are reminded to fill up as many spare containers as possible as you prepare for a weekend of continued water shortage.

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