Minister of State for Public Utilities the Hon. Phenton Neymour speaks with Donnie Newbold, Water and Sewerage representative in Cat Island and Water and Sewerage Corporation Assistant General Manager Robert Deal during a visit to Cat Island to see the water needs for the island in the aftermath of tropical storm Noel. They are pictured in an area that reportedly sustained four feet of flooding. (BIS photo: Derek Smith)
By Eric Rose
NEW BIGHT, Cat Island – The Bahamas Government is proactively investigating and addressing the water needs of the Cat Island residents in wake of flooding caused by tropical storm Noel, Minister of State for Public Utilities the Hon. Phenton Neymour said Wednesday.
“We decided that we were going to make this trip to put together an action plan to address these problems so that the residents themselves can have adequate supplies of water, particularly during adverse weather,” Minister Neymour said.
Minister Neymour led a delegation to Cat Island and Long Island. Undersecretary at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport Calvin Balfour, Assistant General Manager at the Water and Sewerage Department Robert Deal and Consultant Dr. Richard Cant made up the delegation.
The delegation inspected areas affected by the storm and observed flooded roads in the South of the island. A reported four feet of flood water filled the well fields between New Bight and Deans, which were flooded during the delegation’s visit.
“One of the problems on Cat Island, not unknown to us, is that whenever there are heavy rains the well fields, it floods and we have to rely on bottled water being supply to Cat Island,” Minister Neymour said.
“We have identified in Cat Island that more needs to be done,” the Minister noted. “Cat Island is limited by the fact that it only has four reasonable areas for the supply of potable water.”
Minister Neymour that, unfortunately, when there is flooding in the South, residents suffer in more than just that area.
In an effort to alleviate the situation, he said they are examining the possibility of using land that did not flood.
“What we have identified is an area near the well field where we plan to install some storage tanks because during hurricane season, during the adverse weather, it is important that we build up an inventory (of potable water) before the storms hit,” Minister Neymour said.
“We were successful in doing that in New Providence and other islands; but not yet in Cat Island,” he added.
Minister Neymour said the second phase of their action plan in Cat Island will include looking into the establishment of a well field in Northern Cat Island so that there can be a supply there in case the roads flood.
He pointed out that this would assist the efficiency of the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
“We just brought in a new tanker truck to Cat Island which is used to transport water,” he added. “It (a possible Northern well field) would mean less travel time for the truck and therefore, it would mean the supply of more water to the residents.”
Long Island Water Needs
About 75 customers are on the water system in Simms and it produces 7,000 to 10,000 gallons of water per day. The Central Long Island system provides about 85,000 gallons of water per day for about 600 customers, through reverse osmosis.
The Water and Sewerage Corporation also brought in a new water truck for Long Island.
Deputy Administrator for Long Island Rodrick Bowe said Long Island residents appreciate that Minister Neymour and the delegation came to their island, showing that they are he is concerned about the welfare of the people.
“That’s the kind of Minister we want,” Mr. Bowe said. “We want one who is about the people’s business, who is a people’s person.”
Water and Sewerage representative on Long Island Silas Turnquest added: “It shows us that the Government is concerned about the island and it makes us feel like we are important.”