The water quality in Jamaica continues to raise health concerns. Earlier this year, the matter of some unsanitized water trucks distributing unsafe water to residents of Prospect and Lincoln was tackled and resolved by Chief Public Health Inspector for Manchester, Charmaine Palmer-Cross and her team. Since then, efforts have been made to ensure truckers source water from safe sites. However, some truckers are still found to be negligent when sourcing water.
“We received information that some truckers are sourcing water from unsafe water sites. Any water site where proper lab tests haven’t been carried out to test bacteriological content, is considered unsafe until the tests prove otherwise,” said Merton Lindsay, Water Quality Specialist at the Manchester Health Department.
The Manchester Health Department have devised strategies to ensure truckers conform to public health standards. Water trucks are consistently monitored to ensure sources from which water is harnessed meet public health requirements. Samples are collected at sources from which trucks obtain water to determine water safety, and users who are supplied by these trucks are also encouraged to notify the Health Department if they have any concerns about the water quality.
“Truckers are encouraged to properly sanitize their trucks, and we make them aware of the proper loading sites that we recommend, two of which are owned by the NWC and the other by the Windalco Bauxite Plant,” Mr. Lindsay continued.
An early warning system has been implemented to monitor contaminants in water distribution sources. Along each leg of water distribution, there are monitored parameters. If any are found to be outside water distribution standards, an early warning system is activated in which the Health Department immediately informs suppliers for corrective measures to be taken. If the parameter is not addressed within 24-hours, the Health Department will advise that distribution is stopped until the situation is rectified.
The Ministry of Health, Mr. Lindsay said, is also working on a water safety plan to implement the concept of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) to monitor water quality.
“The pilot project was carried out recently at a water treatment plant in Spanish Town and they are now working to have it implemented at other water treatment plants,” he said.
By consistent monitoring, health education sessions with citizens, and liaison with water suppliers, the Manchester Health Department continues efforts to improve water quality.