Septic tank waste crisis in city

By Gwen Evelyn and Linda Rutherford
Guyana Chronicle
October 28, 1999

A SEPTIC tank waste crisis is mounting in Georgetown with sewage removal firms hunting around for dumping spots which citizens fear is creating a serious health hazard.

Officials yesterday said there was no space in Georgetown to dump the sewage from a growing city population with more people using septic tanks.

A Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC) officer said there are 18,000 septic tanks in the city and no facility to accommodate the sewage which is removed by disposal services.

"The development of the city is catching up with all of us", the official said.

Previously, residents were responsible for getting rid of their septic tank waste while GS&WC took care of the areas serviced by the sewerage system. Those with septic tanks once dug a hole in their yards and buried the waste, the official noted.

However, Georgetown and its population have expanded and there was no longer space in people's yards to do this, he said.

The official said disposal services were allowed to use GS&WC's sewerage system at Tucville to dump sewage drawn from their customers' septic tanks. But there was too much grit and this choked the system, he explained.

Disposal services resorted to depositing sewage in GS&WC manholes and sewage list stations, creating a build-up which leads to clogging.

The officer acknowledged a solution has to be found and said a proper sewage station has to be prepared to take care of septic tank waste.

There may be some hope from a second phase of the Inter-American Development Bank remedial programme for water and sewage, he said.

City Hall Public Relations Officer, Mr. Royston King confirmed the council had received several reports of indiscriminate sewage dumping around the city.

He said City Hall's Public Health Department was looking into the matter and steps were being taken to ensure the practice ceased.

A favourite dumping ground appears to be the canal south of the Banks DIH bottling plant at Thirst Park.

The filth is emptied into a fissure in the centre of an abandoned bridge outside the former Lysons garment factory at the Ruimveldt industrial site.

Sources said Saturday is a particularly busy day for this site, from as early as 09:00 hrs until around 17:00 hrs.

Weekdays, they said, are not nearly as busy, though the odd garbage truck comes every day around 16:00 hrs for a regular wash down.

Residents are concerned at the nauseating stench whenever it rains and say people also use the water lilies and leaves growing in the adjacent canal outside Banks DIH for religious and other purposes.

They also fear that the putrid water may somehow be seeping into the canal on the opposite side of the road which persons use to fish. Children also like to frolic in the canal north of the Thirst Park complex.

Another favourite dumping ground is a GS&WC manhole just off the sewage treatment plant on Jackson Street, Tucville.

This was resorted to after the GS&WC reportedly put another manhole not far off under lock and key.

Residents in this area too say the stench is unbearable after the trucks have dumped the waste.

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