MORE than 1,200 residents of several St Mary communities now have potable water flowing from taps in their homes, following the completion of the $60-million Mile Gully/Warwick Castle water supply system.
The system was commissioned into service late last month by Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill.
Tumultuous applause erupted from residents, as water flowed from a pipe turned on by Pickersgill, following a ceremony held at the adjacent St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Mile Gully.
The scope of works spearheaded by the Rural Water Supply Limited, an agency of the ministry, entailed the installation of two pumping stations, eight 2,750-gallon storage tanks, pipelines, and nine solar panels to power the operations. The system will be managed and operated by the National Water Commission (NWC).
A multi-stakeholder undertaking, which also involved members of the local benevolent group, the Mile Gully/Warwick Castle water system was carried out under the Government's US$9.5-million Rural Water Programme, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Pickersgill acknowledged that the system, on which work started some 10 years ago, is "long overdue", but welcomed its completion, contending that it is "better late than never".
The minister also welcomed installation of the nine solar panels, which will reduce the cost of pumping water to NWC customers. This, he said, will cost the utility company some $500 million per month to pump the commodity.
The minister also urged the residents to play their part in maintaining the service in their community by, among other things, paying their bills and protecting the facilities.
Meanwhile, Vice-President of the Mile Gully/Warwick Castle Benevolent Group Joslyn Matterson said the residents welcomed the completion of the project as they previously relied on a spring for water. "We put in our labour to pay our cost to develop the system. Everyone has waited (and) today, we are very, very proud; we are glad for what has transpired," he said.
Basic school teacher of Warwick Castle Alvarene Tracey expressed great pride that tap water had finally come to the community. "It was very hard for people to take water from the spring to their homes, but now that we have the water in the home, (we) don't have to go through the stress of going to the spring to get water (anymore)," she stated.
Franklyn Dingwall of Mile Gully said he too was happy that the community was on the path to development through the provision of piped water.
An overjoyed Mickey Anderson, also of Mile Gully, declared that she no longer has to get up as early as 5:00 a.m. to fetch water for domestic purposes.