Following the discovery of high levels of mercury in the Kaituma River, Region One (Barima-Waini), the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has opted to drill a well and activate two others, to supply previously affected residents in the Region One communities with safe water.GWI’s Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles said the new well will be completed before the end of October. “We are presently drilling another well and in another three weeks that area will have about three wells and we will be pumping into the town so nearly all of the residents will have access to potable water,” Dr Van West-Charles explained.The new well will work concurrently with two others which GWI also intends to activate in the community.Also, in Port Kaituma, works are underway for the completion of a new well at Arakaka and the installation of a C2 Lifesaver filter tank at the Port Kaituma Hospital.Meanwhile, the plan for Mabaruma is to increase the hours of water supply for the residents, Dr Van West-Charles said.“They are moving from pumping from two hours a day to six hours and it should extend, and we are preparing to drill a well in Mabaruma so they should move very quickly to about 24/7.”The design works are ongoing for the construction of a catchment area and trestle at the Arawak Pond in Mabaruma. This will be equipped with storage tanks and a pump. Works will also include the installation of an electro-mechanical system and distribution network along with the implementation of a chlorination system.The sum of $3.2 billion has been allocated to GWI in the 2018 Budget, for the provision of safe and potable drinking water to all citizens. Last week, the report on the findings of an investigation into the mercury level in the waterways in Region One was released.In the final report submitted by Environmental Officer Tamara Gilhuys, it was recommended that complaint officers ensure sample points at and near pump station are included in their routine water quality monitoring. The report further outlined that the environmental division should “lead investigations to ascertain the status of rivers or creeks within mining districts” where Guyana Water Inc pump stations are located and where contamination from mining operations poses an imminent threat to the community.Eleven river water samples were submitted but only 10 were analysed due to leakage of Sample ID ‘10’ during shipment by Kaizen Environmental Services Inc. In the analysis, it was found that at all sample points, the concentrations were within the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.Despite the generally low readings, it was however found that in Sample 4 at 125m upstream Pump Creek, there was 0.000219 mg/L of mercury. Meanwhile, the lowest concentration of 0.000016 mg/L was found in Sample 2 which was located on the Kaituma Canal downstream section of Pump Creek. The WHO guideline is 0.006 mg/L. It was explained that mercury is easily transported to bed sediments from the water column due to its high affinity for organic ligands.The investigation revealed a variety of organisms live in or come into contact with bed sediments and therefore the sediments act as an important route of exposure to aquatic organisms which in turn has implications for human health. “Sediment mercury, therefore, is an indicator of the recreational safety and ecological health of a water source as it relates to wildlife and human health,” the reported observed.