The New Year dawned for some Panjimites with foul smell emanating from their taps, in a state which has been awarded for good governance.
Residents of Cortim-Mala-Fontainhas area were reeling under the worst water contamination since 2002, with sewerage having seeped into the potable water supply lines, for over three days, from January 1.
PWD Executive Engineer Division III Dilip Dhavalikar said that until Saturday the department was not fully satisfied with the water samples tested and would not be able to release normal supply for at least another two days.
The situation was so grave that PWD Division III had disconnected water supply to the entire area at seven locations in a bid to control the spread of e-coli bacteria infested water to the entire distribution system.
This is the first time that the eastern side of Panjim has been plagued with water contamination. If one recalls, the problem is not new to Panjim but had been repeatedly reported in the heart of the capital city. Even last year, seepage of sewerage was reported along water supply lines on 18 June road. This time, the problem has developed between People’s High School and Panjim Head Post office which is known as the heritage zone of Panjim.
PWD division III has been working round-the-clock to identify the problem area and on Saturday had zeroed down to a location near the post office. Dhavalikar said that the turbidity was so high that despite use of chemicals, the lines were yet to report a minimum of .2 ppm at the distribution meter boxes. He said, “The problem is on account of overloaded sewerage systems with discharge now finding its way to old water supply lines.”
Dhavalikar further said that in Cortim-Mala-Fontainhas area many residential houses have been converted to hotels and guesthouses and the existing sewerage chambers are not able to cope with the increasing load. “People are also not giving permissions to have the distribution lines changed as they have paved their compounds and do not want us to do any digging work,” he said. “Everything looks beautiful from the outside but one does not know what is happening beneath all the pavers and concrete,” he observed.
Following complaints of foul smell emanating from household taps on New Year’s Day, PWD officials rushed to various locations and attempted to isolate the problem areas.
“We are supplying water through tankers and advise people who are getting supply from the distribution lines to boil water before consuming it,” said Dhavalikar.
During the last two days, the PWD has also been flushing the affected lines with water under high pressure to clear and prevent further seepage.
A source in the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) has told this paper that the PWD has been ignoring the problem of sewerage discharge from the pump houses near the Vithobha temple and near Four Pillars Hotel near Portais.
We are told that sewerage from these pump houses are being discharged into the Ourem creek and may have now percolated into the water distribution lines.
Residents say that this is evident from the fact that the Ourem creek smells of sewerage discharge. [H]