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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – In-keeping with the Government of Saint Lucia’s plans to build a resilient Saint Lucia, the essential desilting work on The John Compton Dam (JCD) are finally starting with phase one.
The Water and Sewerage Company Incorporated (WASCO) is spearheading the JCD Rehabilitation project which will see the construction of a Sediment Disposal Area (SDA) as sediment removal in the JCD reservoir is critical and urgent. The dam was commissioned in 1996 and over the years flood waters caused by hurricanes have deposited large volumes of sediment into the JCD reservoir and covered the lower intake of the water supply.
Speaking at the ceremony on Monday May 20th 2018 in Tet Chemin, Millet, to mark the commencement of the project, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives, Honourable Ezechiel Joseph, stated that the project was “long outstanding.” He noted that in the past there have been numerous timelines given for the start of the desilting of the JCD that never materialized. The project has in fact been under discussion for almost eight years.
Minister Joseph said that the present Cabinet of Ministers from the outset showed their commitment to the works at the dam and advised the WASCO board to present options.
“I am here today with the support of a Cabinet and a Prime Minister and Parliamentary representative who understand the impact of water,” stated Minister Joseph. “I am sure with your continued support we will be in a position to deliver.”
Chairman of WASCO, Mr. Francis Denbow, explained that the project was divided into two phases and will be done with a loan secured from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for US$10.167 million.
The first component included the preparation and construction of the sediment disposal area and building and repairing of access roads at the site which will be done by local contractor, Mega Contracting Inc. The second component will include the dredging of the reservoir and installation of pipes to the sediment disposal area downstream.
Mr. Denbow explained that “the sediment disposal area can only be worked upon during the drier months of the year.”
“The preliminary works in the sediment disposal area must first start for the dredge to operate in the ensuing rainy months to despatch the sediment to the SDA. One needs to understand that a dredge cannot operate throughout the year in the absence of rainfall as the reservoir water level could be significantly reduced if it is not continually replenished,” he explained. “It must also be borne in mind that we extract almost 9 million gallons of water per day from the dam which capacity has reduced from the original 660 million imperial gallons to a current 300 million gallons on account of siltation caused through past ferocious weather events, deforestation and climate change.
The harsh reality, as explained by Mr. Denbow, was that almost two thirds of the dam is filled with silt that has displaced almost 400 million gallons of water storage capacity.
Not only will the entire country benefit from an improved water supply following the works, the community of Tet Chemin is also expected to benefit from the works and a new water storage tank for the community.
Parliamentary Rep. Hon Dominic Fedee, thanked the residents of the community of Tet Chemin, for understanding the importance of the project. He noted that the Wasco team and the contractors have consulted with residents on the environmental, economic and other impacts. The labour force for the project is to be largely sourced from the community.
Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, also Minister for Finance, explained that he was pleased with the current arrangement with the CDB regarding the loan. He noted that the loan did not require a Government guarantee because of the revenue stream with the dredging fee.
“CDB clearly understood what we were saying and acquiesced that they would not require a guarantee and the loan would now be specifically to WASCO,” explained the Prime Minister adding that this is in-keeping with the Government’s policy of having dedicated revenue streams to support loan arrangements and not overburden the taxpayers of the country.
The Prime Minister congratulated WASCO, the various Ministries involved in the project.
The Roseau watershed and JCD reservoir provide water security for approximately 93,000 residents of Castries, Gros Islet, parts of Anse La Raye and Babonneau.
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