WASA says its water is safe to drink amid lead-contamination fears

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 14:45

The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is seeking to assure customers and the general public that the water it produces meets and exceeds guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for potable or drinking water quality.

This comes following statements reportedly made during the sitting of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Enterprises Committee on Wednesday 15th February 2017, which raised issues of alleged lead contamination at the Caroni Water Treatment Plant in particular.

WASA issued a statement saying it wishes to underscore that there are several mechanisms in place to ensure that water produced and distributed from the Caroni Water Treatment Plant is potable and meets WHO standards including:

* 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.

* Regular water quality testing at the Plant’s onsite 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 (6) water quality parameters which are key indicators of different types of pollution that can impact the Plant’s output.

WASA says that over the past few years, the Water Resources Agency (WRA), SWMCOL and UWI have been working together to improve the water quality in the Guanapo River, by reducing the volume of leachate from the Guanapo landfill entering the River, through measures such as:

* The terracing of the landfill

* The construction of three ponds within the landfill to control runoff

* Pumping of the ponds and the removal of the leachate

* Construction of an artificial wetland to assist with bio treatment of the leachate.

WASA says it is aware of the challenges posed by various issues such as the Guanapo landfill, quarrying as well as agricultural and other runoff upstream of some of our surface water treatment facilities.

In this regard, WASA says it continues to engage in dialogue with various stakeholders including SWMCOL, Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Quarries Association and others to come up with sustainable solutions to many of the problems that impact on raw water quality in various watersheds.

WASA says it wishes to reiterate that the water supply from the Caroni and other Water Treatment Plants meet the WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality and is therefore safe to drink.