Chief health inspector threatens legal action against Country Pond users

It’s no longer a choice, but a demand. Chief Health Inspector Lionel Michael ended his five-month long appeal for people to stop using the faeces-tainted water in Country Pond and is now promising legal action against any who defies him.

“We will not hesitate to take action under the Public Health Act, which is a long process. Again it is a court situation,” Michael said. “We will not hesitate to take action, because we’re resolute in our decision that the water is unsafe for human contact.”

That determination was first made in August, but then as in December when months of testing concurred with the original finding, the 25 or so car washers and their customers continued normal activities, which were intensified on New Year’s Eve and disregarded the chief health inspector’s demands to “stop using the water immediately.”

Since the latest proclamation on December 30, there have been a series of meetings aimed primarily at finding a way to allow the car washers’ businesses to survive without endangering their health or that of their customers.

Along with Central Board of Health (CBH), those talks have involved Public Works Department (PWD), Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), and the car washers. The last meeting was held yesterday morning. The agreement, which the car washers are party to, requires APUA to pipe in water and users to pay for the service.

“In the interim, we will put a storage tank at the site that holds 5,000 to 7,000 gallons of water. We will fill that tank of water from another source other than Country Pond,” Michael said. “They will use that water from the tank until they can work out a relationship with APUA. Again, they have eight to 10 days to do that.”

Michael said that tank will be on site today and that the gates will be closed after it’s delivered, and anyone caught using water from country pond for any purpose after that will the prosecuted.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)