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NRA halts well waste vacuuming after Cayman 27 investigation

The National Roads Authority’s well vacuuming programme is now on hold.

This, after a Cayman 27 investigation uncovered the NRA illegally discharging well waste into wetlands along a major thouroughfare in June.

Water Authority Cayman said it’s planning to test this waste water for contaminants to determine the best disposal method going forward.

The NRA suspended its well vacuuming activities after a multi-agency meeting on 22 June held to address its practice of discharging well water waste into the wetlands off Linford Pierson Highway.

“The goal is to get the program back up and running, but in a way that makes sure the environment is being protected at the same time,” said Water Authority Cayman Corporate Communications Officer Hannah Reid.

She told Cayman 27 in order to achieve that goal, the Water Authority will have to determine what, if any, contaminants are present in this type of waste water.

“Until we know exactly what contaminants if any are in the storm well water waste, we don’t know how to accurately, to effectively dispose of it, so the testing is necessary to be able to find out what the proper method of disposal should be,” she said, adding that the process could take weeks.

Unanswered questions remain, such as when the NRA started the illegal practice of discharging into the wetlands.

Up until 2007, Ms. Reid said the NRA discharged its well waste at the water treatment facility.

“The NRA was discharging right into our waste stabilization ponds, which was endangering the embankment, so I believe they were asked to stop discharging there directly into the waste water treatment ponds, and then following that, the Water Authority was no longer in the picture,” she explained.

NRA Acting Director Edward Howard did not respond to Cayman 27’s request for comment for this story.

In June, when this story broke, he sent a statement.

“There was a previous arrangement with DEH to discharge well effluent at a specially prepared location at the landfill.This arrangement, it appears is no longer feasible,” said Mr. Howard in an email.

Ms. Reid told Cayman 27 the multi-agency meeting, for the most part, has been productive.

“Our major concern right now is just figuring out what contaminants if any are in the waste discharge, and what we can do going forward to effectively dispose of the waste from the storm water wells,” said Ms. Reid.

Ms. Reid told Cayman 27 the Department of Environmental Health was invited, but did not attend the 22 June meeting.

Cayman 27 contacted the DEH again about the issue Monday and as of press time have not yet received a response.

The Department of Environment weighed in on the multi-agency meeting.

“Once [testing] has occurred we will all be in a better position to consider and agree on appropriate and environmentally responsible methods to handle the wastewater from the disposal wells,” said DOE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie in an email Monday (9 July)

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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