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House: ‘brown water’ bill tops $33,000

Taking action: Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, oversees work to address the brown water in Prospect in April

More than $30,000 has been spent on resolving the problem of brown water in the Prospect area of Devonshire.

Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, revealed that $33,520 had already been paid out on the main’s bypass, while a further $500,000 has been set aside to complete “infrastructure upgrades”.

The information was handed out in the House of Assembly yesterday in response to questions by Progressive Labour Party MP Dennis Lister about the brown water problem.

Mr Lister had posed a series of questions about how many visits had been made by water staff to the area and how often complaints had been made since December 2012.

In a prepared response, Mr Cannonier said: “There have been periodic complaints about water quality after service interruptions for decades.

“This issue historically has been attributed to debris in the supply lines and the discolouration would always clear up soon after service was restored.

“As a matter of procedure the Water and Sewage Section always sends technical personnel to the site when they are contacted about a water quality complaint.

“The records of these instances and the specific number of visits are not recorded as no work was performed. The earliest documented work relating to brown water occurred in the autumn of 2015.”

In April, Mr Cannonier refuted suggestions that the brown water in Prospect and Cedar Park homes constituted a recurring health hazard.

The claim followed accusations by Mr Lister and fellow PLP MP Diallo Rabain that the Bermuda Government was deaf to the concerns of residents, with about 70 homes still receiving discoloured water years after the problem began.

In Mr Cannonier’s response to Mr Lister’s questions, he added: “In late 2015 once there was evidence of distribution system issues causing brown water faults; service calls were documented.

“The first contact and complaint to the ministry after this? determination occurred in December 2015. Subsequently there have been 44 recorded customer complaints and specific customers that lodged a complaint have been informed on the status of the field investigation and the work undertaken if required.”

The Minister’s response added: “On April 15, 2016, the ministry sent written correspondence to all customers indicating what investigations had determined and what the ministry intended to do to remedy the issue.

“The works described in the letter were carried out and they have remedied the discolouration issue that has been affecting the area.”