Water shortage continues in Unitedville

“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink”. The village of Unitedville sits near the Belize river, a couple of creeks and even a spring but many of the villagers say, they are not getting an adequate supply of potable water.

Yesterday PlusNews visited the village of Unitedville on the George price highway between Belmopan and San Ignacio and spoke to residents of the village who have been complaining to PlusNews for some time now that there water supply is sporadic.  And even when they do manage to get water, the pressure is low, and many times the water looks very unhealthy. The first set of villagers we spoke to are from the area near Mount Hope. 

Lucia Ellis, Unitedville Resident

Service up to 2 years ago was very good. We could not complain. However, it started to become very scanty. Sometimes we had no water. We complained and you’ve probably seen me on television or heard me on radio a couple of times. We have complained about it. It was addressed minimally to the point where now we do get water but the pressure is very, very low. If I do laundry, which is my concern, my electricity bill is a very high because [it takes] 2 hours for the machine to fill up for both cycles, I am very concerned.

Ana Marie Sutton, Unitedville Resident

I moved from Blackman Eddie and I am in Unitedville for the past 15 to 16 years. Water has always been a problem for me. About three years ago it started. The water bill started going up but all I am getting is air from out of my pipe. One time they said it was the pump, another time they said they don’t know what it is. It’s the source; we are not getting enough water from the well. But no I don’t understand because they are not even checking the well. They’re not doing anything; they come and turn the pump on sometimes. Sometimes in the morning at 7 or 8:00 a.m. they are just turning it on. You barely get any. And I just went and spent almost a $1000 to get a brand new tank and I have one on top of my house that I use [for] water.

PlusNews was then taken to another part of the village, close to where the SMART tower is. Another set of villagers came out to voice their discontent with the state of the Village’s water system. One villager complained that though she has been out of water for years, at least in the past the bill was a 7.50 flat rate. Now she says, with the water meters in, she pays 50 to 80 dollars in water bill monthly, but yet there is more air than water that comes through her pipes.

Nancy Myvett, Unitedville Resident

I am glad that you guys have finally taken the opportunity to come out and talk with us and see. Because it’s for a long time now that we have been suffering from this water problem, especially me. Over 2 years now I am a single mother and sometimes I can’t even wash for 2 weeks. Sometimes my basket is overflowing with clothes because we cannot wash since there is no water. We have a problem. Some people will have sometimes on one side of the road, or my neighbor will have, and I won’t have any! We really want something to be done. [Even] If they have to go and do the water system all over so that people can get water because water is the source of life. We’ve been 6 months to 8 months without water. I have to pay people to go all the way to Ontario Village near a Creek called “Curry Creek” to get water for me. I buy water to drink and that water that I use is for washing My dishes.

Fernando Hope, Unitedville Resident

I live here for 24 years and I do not know what is happening in the new area at the back here. Because the water does not flow far back here. It only comes to certain spots to where I live and sometimes the people do not have water for 2 days. They have to wait until the night time to fill their water and that is not right because people are paying their water bill. They’re paying for their meter and they’re not getting a service. I do not think that is right. So we want whoever is in charge of the water, if they cannot handle the problem. let’s turn it over to somebody or turn it over to WASA.

One of the complaints the villagers made is that there seems to be little interest coming from the Chairman of the Water board because he does not live in the village, but in a nearby one which has no water problems. But Unitedville Chairman, Mike Juan, says not so, He claims that they have worked hard on the problem and it’s not about poor administration, it has to do with the source of the Water itself.

Mike Juan, Unitedville Chairman

We are working on the water system because the well is going dry. We have reported it to Rural Development. Minister Hugo Patt, but whenever I call him he is here. We have dug three Wells already.We cannot find water so what we are doing right now, we are putting the water straight from the well to the village. And we cannot control it because sometimes the well goes below the pump and we cannot get water. We have burnt 2 pumps since the water problem because we cannot monitor how low the water is down there. Sometimes the water goes below the pump and the pump Burns. The Minister was here with me, Hugo Patt and Rural Development was here and Mr. Dale Banner was here and we tested it and it cannot pump the water to the reservoir so the minister said ‘put it directly to the village’ so the village has water. That’s where we are right now.

Juan says that the problem is a long standing one but he is willing to try again in the next few weeks.

Mike Juan, Unitedville Chairman

We have a place near Ontario which is a Spring and that is the next step that we will take. The truck is in Punta Gorda drilling but as soon as the truck is finished the truck we’ll be right back at Unitedville because it’s back-and-forth. Because there is a problem in PG worse than Unitedville there; they do not have any water there. But we have water here but we have a problem because the water is below but everyone has a little bit of water. But I think by next week we will dig another well in the village. Hopefully we get water. If we get water the problem will be over. The government has really responded to Unitedville . Any time anything is wrong the government is there and I will always say my Prime Minister is one of the best; he always, as soon as the chairman calls, [he says] ‘yes I will send it there”.

Meanwhile, the villagers say, that the village’s water problem has taken long to solve, not because of the lack of water itself, but the lack of the villagers work together to solve the problem.

Lucia Ellis, Unitedville Resident

As an activist in the community we have attempted to call the community together  but for some reason the people are afraid to step up and speak out. Whether they think it is political… I must say I am not attached to any political group. I work with the chairman closely because I believe that the community needs to be encouraged and nurtured.

Fernando Hope, Unitedville Resident

It’s as they say, you have to speak for your rights. No one can stop you from talking about something; especially water. You can live in the dark but you cannot live without water. So I went around to bring people out but they refused to come. I don’t know why. But I told them “when you don’t talk, when you have water problem, don’t cry because you don’t want to come out and talk”.

Ana Marie Sutton, Unitedville Resident

The thing is, the people of Unitedville need to step up and speak up and talk about the water problem. We are paying a high water bill and not getting pressure. or very little water. 

Lucia Ellis, Unitedville Resident

The community needs to step up so that this situation can be addressed correctly, not piece- piece, a little bit here and a little bit there. Sometimes you don’t get, sometimes you get. It can be corrected. I know some villages in this country that are younger than us and they have a good water system because the community got together. Their politician, Chairman, got together with them and they pushed. So we can do it.

The council says we will be called when the equipment is in the area to drill another well, and hopefully, they next time, the technicians will hit gold, I mean, water!

About the Author