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WASA: Drinking water safe

Published: 
Friday, February 17, 2017
No lead contamination of Caroni Treatment Plant

The water supply from the Caroni and other water treatment plants meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for drinking water quality and is therefore safe to drink, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) said yesterday.

WASA issued a statement to this effect last night following sharp concern about the quality of water following a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting on Wednesday, where there were revelations of lead from the Guanapo landfill possibly contaminating water courses leading to the Caroni Water Treatment Plant. Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) officials said the situation was known since 2014.

The disclosure caused alarm and concern from JSC members. Exposure to high levels of lead may cause anaemia, weakness, kidney and brain damage.

At yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing Minister Stuart Young (Office of the Prime Minister) said Government was very concerned “about what we heard (from the JSC meeting).

He said there was no evidence up to then, of any lead poisoning in potable drinking water. He added testing was going on at the landfill.

Young said Government has asked for an urgent report on the matter from the Public Utilities Ministry. He expected the report would address the aspect of water for consumption and if this has been contaminated.

Young cautioned the public not to over or under-react since Government had to await the report to find out if the situation was affecting any aquifer supplying water sources and may have seeped into the Caroni Water Treatment Plant.

Young’s statements were followed last night by a release from WASA seeking to allay fears about the water.

WASA stated the water it produced met and exceeded guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for potable or drinking water quality.

Specifically referencing the JSC revelations, and alleged lead contamination at the Caroni Water Treatment Plant, WASA stated there were several mechanisms in place to ensure water produced and distributed from that plant was potable and met WHO standards.

This included a rigorous treatment process.

“Lead is a heavy metal contaminant which is easily removed from water during WASA’s coagulation/flocculation and sedimentation processes. In addition, there is disinfection to eliminate dangerous pathogens,” the release said.

“Regular water quality testing at the plant’s on-site laboratory in keeping with WHO Guidelines. Water Quality Monitoring System (WQMS) to monitor water quality parameters in the Caroni River Basin and provide real-time water quality data to the plant from several locations upstream of the Caroni Plant.

“This system measures six water quality parameters which are key indicators of different types of pollution that can impact the Plant’s output,” the statement added.

WASA stated the Water Resources Agency, SWMCOL and UWI had been working together in the past few years to improve the water quality in the Guanapo River by reducing the volume of leachate from the Guanapo landfill entering the river.