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Offline Flex

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WASA Thread.
« on: October 02, 2011, 05:43:43 AM »
WASA workers get $80M discomfort allowance it’s no pay off to accept five per cent says Duke.
By Brent Zephyrine (Guardian).


President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke has denied that the “Discomfort Allowance”—which saw some Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) employees take home as much as $50,000 per person—was an inducement for his union to accept the five per cent “payout package” for monthly paid workers.

“This (discomfort allowance) was not a payout. When we negotiate, everything on the table speaks towards making an agreement. “The allowance was not to appease because that suggests that it was meant to satisfy somebody who is peevish and that is not the issue,” he told the Sunday Guardian during an exclusive interview at his Abercromby Street office in Port-of-Spain.

Duke explained that the “allowance”—which had its genesis “many years ago” (pre-dating the Occupational Safety and Health Act)—was one that “was paid to employees who were working in certain centres (sick buildings) that were deemed to be unfit” or not in compliance with proper health and safety standards.

He said: “Right now WASA is doing some serious renovations to some of its offices, but in order for those plans to go forward, you must bring an end to the situation of discomfort as far as is reasonably possible and this is what we (the PSA) have sought to do (by negotiating for such an allowance.)

“What we see here is actually compensation for what workers have undergone and we are saying that those situations should not occur again but we have signed that agreement only recently, so we will need to give them some time to improve their facilities.

“The union decided to make an agreement in the interim since management had no place to relocate workers. So, until they found such a place, management said, don’t stop working because we need you and we’re going to pay you this,” the PSA head added. Duke said the onus was on the management to fix those “sick buildings” and also attributed blame to the former government whom he accused of neglecting WASA employees and who, by their inaction, necessitated such a “pay off.”

“Why did the People’s National Movement force workers to work in that environment after all these years. How many buildings did they build for WASA workers? “Had they dealt with their work then, there would have been no pay off.

You feel this (discomfort allowance) is something workers are longing to get?” he asked. Duke added, too, that because WASA’s “daily paid workers” were “compensated long before” in this regard, it seemed only equitable to the union, that those monthly paid workers be endowed with a similar benefit and so the PSA “decided to negotiate for that.”

Breakdown of “allowance”

Earlier this year (July 21), as had been widely reported in the media, the PSA accepted a five per cent wage increase valued at $183 million (including arrears) from WASA. However, WASA’s multi-million dollar budget for the one-time payment of a “Discomfort Allowance” to its monthly paid workers, was not as publicised.

Section One of the Memorandum of Agreement between the PSA and WASA’s monthly paid staff, for the period January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010, identified an $80 million allocation for the payment of “discomfort allowance” claims in “two tranches.”

It stated: “A lump sum payment of eighty million dollars (TT$80M) in full and final settlement of all and any claims arising out of Discomfort Allowance claims. “The Authority commits to make this payment in two tranches. The first tranche shall be paid by August 15, 2011 and the second tranche shall be paid by August 31, 2011.”

Asked if these “tranches” were actually paid, WASA’s Employee Relations manager Winston Driggs responded: “Yes, they were paid.” Driggs added: “It was a one-off payment and was a matter which had been disputed for a number of years now and was only paid this year.” A document, exclusively obtained by the Sunday Guardian, revealed the breakdown of the categories (longevity) of workers and their respective “allowances” as shown in Table 1.

Additionally, every worker within the bargaining unit, “with at least three years’ continuous service” over the aforementioned period (2008 to 2010), was given “a lump sum payment of $3,000,” according to the memorandum. The Sunday Guardian has learnt that people who retired this year, were paid on the basis outlined in categories (a) to (f) above.

Those who retired between “the Collective Agreement periods 2008 to 2010”, were entitled to the lump sum payment in category (g), on a prorated basis (that is, $40,000 divided by 36 months, multiplied by the number of months employed during the period 2008 to 2010).
 
Enhancement to take five per cent

One WASA spokesman said the discomfort allowance “was something under the table” and if management’s bargaining proposal was not accepted and had gone to court, they (WASA employees) stood the risk of losing such benefit.

He said: “That (discomfort allowance) was something we were fighting for years and they decided to put it in this package, but if it had gone to the Industrial Court, that section of the proposal would have been struck out by management and would no longer form part of the collective agreement.”

Asked whether it was a “payout package” given to WASA workers so that they would accept the five per cent, the spokesman responded by saying: “Yes, it was something like that. It was an enhancement to take the five per cent.

“You see, when you look at it, it was not only five per cent we were getting so how could we refuse that package especially those persons with over 25 years service who stood to lose a lot ofmoney,” the spokesman added. Another WASA spokesman said “the real purpose” of the discomfort allowance was to “compromise” with the union since WASA was not in total compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

WASA response forthcoming...

When questioned last Thursday on the issue and on whether the “discomfort allowance” was to be construed as a five per cent “payout”, WASA’s Corporate Communications Manager Ellen Lewis advised that the Sunday Guardian forward its questions to her via e-mail and such was complied with. She later indicated that “a response will be forthcoming” and offered no further comment up  until late yesterday.

Table 1

BREAKDOWN OF ALLOWANCE

Category  -  Category Pay
0-2 years  -  $4,000 per person
2-5 years   - $8,000 per person
5-10 years  -  $15,000 per person
10-15 years  -  $35,000 per person
15-25 years  -  $45,000 per person
25 years and more -   $50,000 per person
Retirees  -  $40,000 per person
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Offline zuluwarrior

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Duke: WASA payout to Israeli firm a saving
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2013, 05:25:32 AM »


Duke: WASA payout to Israeli firm a saving


Published:


Thursday, May 2, 2013



Yvonne Baboolal
 


The decision of the International Court of Arbitration ordering the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to pay Israeli firm Merhav Mekorot Development T&T Ltd (MMDTL) $100 million is a very good one, says Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke. “The $100 million is really a savings to the taxpayer.”
 
 
 
 
 
At a press conference at the PSA’s Abercromby Street headquarters on Tuesday, Duke said the $100 million was only five per cent of the $2 billion WASA would have had to pay MMDTL if the contract had been allowed to go through. WASA signed a contract with the firm on April 12, 2010 but it was never implemented. Disputes between the parties arose over the signing, completion and putting into effect of the agreement.
 
 
 
All WASA’s claims and counterclaims in the matter were dismissed and it was given until today to pay the $100 million to the Israeli company. Duke recalled that in May 2010 the PSA resisted the contract, saying it was an insult to WASA workers who were equally capable of doing the same work. He said the PSA still stood firmly behind that position. “The stopping of the contract is to the benefit of WASA and the workers.
 
 
 
“$100 million is a mere five per cent of $2 billion. Had the contract continued, WASA would have had to pay the Israeli firm $2 billion. Not one single director of the company is a local.” Commending the work of WASA workers over the past two years and noting the 400 per cent increase in rate collection last year, Duke called on the authority  now to reward those in the trenches.
 
 
 
He said WASA had already given a commitment to pay workers a four per cent salary increase but it should be given without delay. “I’m calling on WASA to use the $1.9 billion savings from the Israeli firm contract and the profits from rate collections to pay workers.” Declining to disclose how much workers have to be paid, he said: “It’s just a drop in the bucket of $1.9 billion.
 
 
 
“The time has come to reward WASA workers with more than just a trip to the Hyatt. What is required is pocket money. I am calling on the minister to settle the four per cent salary adjustment of the workers.”
 





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Offline Flex

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WASA Thread.
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2020, 11:26:47 AM »
Minister: Ex-WASA CEO fired for improper $2m payment.
By Gail Alexander (Guardian).


The for­mer Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Au­thor­i­ty (WASA) CEO was fired last year be­cause he breached his du­ty in fail­ing to ob­tain WASA Board ap­proval and the prop­er au­tho­ri­sa­tion for a $2 mil­ion pay­ment, ac­cord­ing to Pub­lic Util­i­ties Min­is­ter Robert Le Hunte.

Le Hunte gave the ex­pla­na­tion in the Sen­ate yes­ter­day fol­low­ing queries from UNC Sen­a­tor Wade Mark on the cir­cum­stances which led to the sus­pen­sion and sub­se­quent dis­missal of the ex- CEO —El­lis Bur­ris last year.

Bur­ris was fired last May af­ter be­ing sent on va­ca­tion as a re­sult of an in­ter­na­tion­al in­ves­ti­ga­tion. At the time Bur­ris said the mat­ter was with his lawyers who would “use their le­gal minds to de­ci­pher what is right from wrong. Bur­ris was ap­point­ed CEO in Ju­ly 2017.

Le Hunte had said last year Bur­ris was sent on leave be­cause of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to al­le­ga­tions that he’d tak­en ac­tions with­out the Board’s in­volve­ment.

At yes­ter­day’s Sen­ate, Le Hunte said the for­mer CEO was ad­vised to go on leave in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate a probe in­to the pay­ment of al­lowances on or around Oc­to­ber 10, 2018 out­side of his pre­scribed lim­it, with­out the WASA Board’s ap­proval .

Le Hunte said, “The Board af­ter giv­ing full con­sid­er­a­tion to the mat­ter and on the ba­sis of ev­i­dence avail­able to it , in­clud­ing the re­spons­es and in­for­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the CEO con­clud­ed that the CEO breached his fidu­cia­ry du­ty of care and faith­ful ser­vice to Wasa in fail­ing to ob­tain the re­quired ap­proval of the Board. “

“Fur­ther, that the CEO failed to fol­low due process to en­sure the pay­ment was prop­er­ly au­tho­rised and in ced­ing his ju­ris­dic­tion and/or au­thor­i­ty in au­tho­ris­ing the pay­ment. In the cir­cum­stances and based on loss of trust and con­fi­dence in the CEO, his ser­vice was ter­mi­nat­ed. The CEO has sub­se­quent­ly in­di­cat­ed his in­ten­tion to bring le­gal pro­ceed­ings on the mat­ter b is­su­ing a pre-ac­tion pro­to­col let­ter.

On Mark’s query about the pay­ment, Le Hunte said it was in the vicin­i­ty of, or about $2 mil­lion. He couldn’t say how many ben­e­fit­ted from the trans­ac­tion.

But Le Hunte said the sys­tems in­volved in the is­sue have been tight­ened at WASA to en­sure that peo­ple are made aware of their lim­its and when they have lim­its, cer­tain things re­quire “es­ca­la­tion.”

He said when peo­ple have cer­tain lines of au­thor­i­ty and there are pro­ce­dures , in run­ning an or­gan­i­sa­tion one had to en­sure peo­ple act­ed with­in the pre­scribed lim­its of way of au­thor­i­ty oth­er­wise it was left open for a lot of things to hap­pen.

“We al­so en­sured man­agers are aware of their lim­its and un­der­stand the con­se­quences of not keep­ing things in the pre­scribed lim­its,” he added.

Al­so at yes­ter­day’s sit­ting, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi— on oth­er queries — said T&T is a “very liti­gious so­ci­ety.”

He said he has seen vast amounts of lit­i­ga­tion re­gard­ing the state con­cern­ing po­lice ac­tiv­i­ty. He said there can be no greater in­de­pen­dent re­view­er than the courts

He re­it­er­at­ed that some raids at Gulf View last year in­volved po­lice be­ing in “hot pur­suit of an al­leged per­pe­tra­tor of a kid­nap­ping.

Al-Rawi said po­lice can en­ter a house with­out a search war­rant when ef­fect­ing an ar­rest. Of­fi­cers may en­ter the premis­es with­out war­rant to pre­vent a mur­der, ar­rest a per­son they fol­lowed on­to the premis­es, to pre­vent com­mis­sion of a crime or fol­low an of­fend­er run­ning from of­fi­cers.

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Re: WASA Thread.
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2020, 11:36:12 AM »
Fired WASA CEO: I did nothing wrong.
By Ken Chee Hing (Newsday).


Former Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) CEO Ellis Burris has described his dismissal from the authority as a “witch hunt.”

Burris, who was ap­point­ed CEO in Ju­ly 2017 is adamant that he did nothing wrong. His intention now is to begin legal proceedings.

Burris spoke with Newsday after Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said on Tuesday in the Senate, that Burris was fired last year because he breached his duty by failing to obtain WASA’s board approval and proper authorisation for a $2 million payment.

Le Hunte was responding to queries from UNC Sen­a­tor Wade Mark on the cir­cum­stances which led to Burris's sus­pen­sion and sub­se­quent dis­missal in 2019.

Bur­ris was fired last May af­ter be­ing sent on va­ca­tion as a re­sult of an in­ter­na­tion­al in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Le Hunte had said last year Bur­ris was sent on leave be­cause of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to al­le­ga­tions that he had ac­ted with­out the board’s in­volve­ment.

Speaking with Newsday on Thursday, Burris denied any wrongdoing.

“I have not exceeded any limit. WASA has given the authority to the CEO, who has a limit of $3 million."

Le Hunte said over $2 million had been wrongully spent, but Burris said, "these were monies legitimately owed to workers at the Navet dam. They have been toiling over time, going to work on time, their home-to-office travel has been there years and months to be paid…it was not paid.

"The union raised the issue. I. as the CEO. must investigate. I did investigate, as it could have created an industrial unrest. I therefore went about my normal procedures.”

Calling his dismissal “nothing but a witch hunt and wickedness," he said he wanted the public to know.

"They know when and where I’ve worked already. I was the Chief Administrator in the Tobago House of Assembly, I was the Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities, I’ve been the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tobago Development. All these places I’ve worked without any problem… I am aware of administration and administrative activities.”

Burris said it seemed there was a feeling that he went to "clean up" WASA, which was plagued with several ongoing issues.

From the time he arrived, he said, "Tthere were challenges by some people. Some people believed that I must have come to clean up the place, but I was at least walking and working with them. We had a nice quarterly meeting where we reviewed the last quarter and gave suggestions for the upcoming quarter. The entire (board of) directors prepared their presentations on a quarterly basis for discussions at quarterly meetings.”

When the issue of the payment to workers arose, he said, "I went about from a public service perspective to investigate. I put the auditors in, I sought legal advice and after that a note was supposed to be prepared for the board. I sent a note to the director of HR, who generates notes on HR matters to the board, to prepare the necessary arrangements to go to pay the workers.”

The matter is now in the hands of his lawyer, Pamela Elder.

He complained, “Already the process has been flawed because of the way it was handled. It is unfair for an individual to be treated in this way.I hope the State would reconsider what has happened.”



Former Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) CEO Ellis Burris

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Offline Flex

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Re: WASA Thread.
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2020, 01:14:37 PM »
Why WASA digs up newly-paved roads
By NARISSA FRASER (NEWSDAY).


When a road in T&T is paved, drivers and commuters rejoice. But this rejoicing often turns into annoyance at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) for digging up parts of these roads just a few days later to do repairs. Many even jokingly say WASA actually stands for Workers Against Smooth Asphalt.

The most recent examples include the work on Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, and in Otaheite.

But the company wants to assure the public it has good reason for doing so.

Newsday chatted with senior manager, corporate communications of WASA Daniel Plenty, who shed light on the issue.

Plenty said the Ministry of Works and Transport contacts WASA before any roadwork begins, and the authority then repairs existing leaks along the route.

But while the road work is being done, heavy equipment often damages the pipelines buried under the road, leaving WASA no choice but to fix it.

“If leaks occur, the authority has no other option than to excavate the newly paved area, in order to repair the leak that developed during the paving exercise," Plenty said.

“In the case of a high-leakage pipeline, the authority would undertake installation of a new pipeline and decommissioning of the old one before roadworks. This approach was followed along Fishing Pond Road in North East Trinidad.”

He said the most common damage was to water service connections to individual customers, since these are usually more shallowly buried than the mains.

Asked how important these repairs are after a road is paved, he said they are critical.

“This is also an essential part of our water conservation drive.”

These repairs are co-ordinated with the Works and Transport Ministry and usually take 24 hours .

When asked if the workers who pave the roads need to do a better job to prevent such damage, he did not point any fingers.

He said, “In some instances, the authority's pipelines are aged and in a deteriorated state along the routes where roadworks are being undertaken.”

But one additional issue people often have with this type of roadwork is that the roads are not always properly repaired after the pipelines are fixed. This even sparked a recent trend of putting placards into potholes that people believe are a result of WASA not properly fixing the area it dug up.

Plenty said WASA will continue to work closely with the Works and Transport Ministry “in relation to the execution of restoration works that may potentially affect our pipeline network.”

Newsday tried to reach Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan for a comment but all calls went unanswered.

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

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Re: WASA Thread.
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 07:27:57 AM »
WASA moves to sell seven properties over unpaid bills
BY CAROL MATROO (NEWSDAY).


WASA is on a drive to collect over $700m owed by customers and intends to auction off delinquent customers properties to recover the sum.

Seven commercial properties were recently listed for sale by the public authority after other attempts to recover payment failed.

According to WASA chairman Romney Thomas: “I can’t tell you with any specificity how many times we have been pursuing them. The last step in the process is we would have sent them disconnection notices, request for payments, ask them to come in to meet us. That is the last step, so it would have been a long period before we take this step.”

Thomas said he could not say how long the property owners have been owing the authority since they were different properties and different people during different periods.

He did say that the amount owed to WASA – not just these seven properties – was over $700 million. On the authority’s website, there were 15 properties up for sale.

“This is the absolute step that we want to take, not one we want to take very lightly. It is a very draconian step but it is our responsibility to recover what is outstanding. We have a responsibility to provide water for everybody. If we don’t get paid for the service, we can’t provide service for the law-abiding citizens.”

Late last year acting CEO Alan Poon King had urged customers to pay their bills, saying water management, water treatment and water distribution cannot be done free of charge.

“We want to ensure people pay their bills as we need the funds to treat and distribute the water. We ask people to work with the authority so that all can benefit. It’s a simple thing, pay your bill to avoid disconnection.”

He said WASA’s rates were already low when compared to rates in other Caribbean countries yet people are lax in paying their bills.

“The message is you need to do your part. The rates equate to just about the maximum that you can pay for a residential property, about $3 per day. WASA has a responsibility, but customers have a responsibility as well.”

WASA is an authority regulated by the Regulated Industries Commission.

Commenting on the move, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said the authority required payments to fix leaks, prepare roads to get more water and to fulfil its mandate to provide water to the people of TT.

“At the end of the day, I think WASA, as with any business, also has to be able to pay the bills that they have for suppliers, for the people who do the work. Cash is king, cash flow is king, so I think WASA, in its management...it is important for anybody who is managing the business has to look at that cash flow and manage the receipt of that. I think that is what the management of what WASA is doing as any good manager would attempt to do.”

In T&T, WASA clients receive their billings every quarter (every three months). They are given two billing periods of grace before the authority takes action.

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Re: WASA Thread.
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2020, 05:32:31 AM »
WASA employee dies during sex in company vehicle.
By Cassandra Thompson-Forbes (Guardian).


Tobago Police are probing the circumstances surrounding the death of a 56-year-old man who died at French Fort, Scarborough on Monday evening after having sexual intercourse with a woman in a WASA vehicle.

The victim has been identified as Roland Reid of Signal Hill, an Estate Inspector employed with the Water and Sewerage Authority(WASA).

According to police reports around 6:20 pm, officers from the Scarborough Police Station responded to a report of a death at Smallville, French Fort, Scarborough.

When officers arrived they saw Reid seated in the driver’s seat of a car belonging to WASA. Guardian Media understands that Reid was wearing a white vest, multi-coloured underwear and a pair of grey socks at the time.

Police say the body bore no marks of violence. Reid was identified by his brother who lived a short distance away.

A 37-year-old woman told police that around 5:00 pm, after having sexual relations with Reid in the vehicle, he complained of feeling unwell and began gasping for breath, he subsequently went motionless.

District Medical Officer Dr Okali visited the scene and ordered the body removed to the Scarborough Hospital Mortuary.

An autopsy would be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

Ag Insp Campbell of the Scarborough Police Station is continuing investigations.


Roland Reid, of Signal Hill, also WASA employee, found dead in a company vehicle after sexual relations with a woman.

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Re: WASA Thread.
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2020, 05:40:13 AM »
WASA goes on major water rationing drive
By Carisa Lee (Guardian).


Citizens can expect their daily water supply to be reduced significantly soon as the Water and Sewage Authority, in response to record low levels at its reservoirs across the country, plans to ration its supply nationwide.

This was the word from WASA CEO Alan Poon King as he toured the Arena Reservoir in San Rafael to update the media on the issues the authority was facing due to the lower than normal rainfall levels so far this year.

“In cases where customers may be accustomed to 24/7 supply, that may be down to five days a week and five to three and so on. We amend as required,” Poon King said.

According to Poon King, all four reservoirs across the country have been operating at a deficit amounting to 25 million gallons a day. He said WASA depends on the Trinidad and Tobago Metrological Service for rainfall projections but in the last 16 days its forecasts had not come to pass.

“For the month of July we have been producing around 215 million gallons a day and whereas ideally, we want to be between 240 or 243 gallons a day,” Poon King said.

At the Arena Reservoir, which supports the Caroni Water Treatment Plant and stores 10 billion gallons, Poon King admitted that capacity was the lowest he had ever seen it. He said the last time it was that low ten years ago and the last time it was at capacity was in 2018.

At this stage of the year, Poon King said the Hollis, Caroni Arena, Navet and Hillsborough reservoirs should be at 50 to 60 per cent capacity but currently they are all significantly below, with Hollis at 15 per cent and Hillsborough at 40 per cent.

“Roughly 18 months that we’ve had not normal rainfall has resulted in all the storage levels at our reservoirs…being significantly depleted,” Poon King said.

However, he said the authority has a goal and plans to have all four reservoirs at capacity by December 31, 2020. But in order to accomplish this, water production will be reduced.

“At the Caroni Water Treatment Plant we are doing 50 million gallons a day as compared to a capacity of 75 million gallons a day,” he explained.

He said whatever volume of storage is realised through rainfall, WASA will compensate accordingly.

Poon King said WASA had also stopped its disconnection drive because of the COVID-19 pandemic but said patrols to identify errant customers who use hoses during the current restrictions in force are underway. He said the fee for those found guilty of this breach is $75.

The CEO said WASA is currently owed $800 million in arrears by customers, adding this is an area they will also have to work on.

“We do need to collect rates to provide the service we need to,” Poon King said.

Current Reservoir Levels:

Reservoir*Current % capacity*LTA % capacity

Hollis* 15.98%*54.81%

Caroni Arena*20.33%*58.58%

Navet*26.17%*57.23%

Hillsborough*40.09%*53.55%

Current Plant Production

Water Treatment Plant*Current Production* Normal Production

Caroni*50 mgd*75 mgd

Norht Oropouche*16 mgd*23 mgd

Navet* 17 mgd*20 mgd

Hollis*4 mgd*8.4 mgd

Hillsborough*1 mgd*1.5 mgd

Rainfall levels for the year

Month* Actual*Average*Notes

Jan*68 MM*80 MM

Feb*29 MM*50 MM

Mar* 5 MM* 32 MM* Top 10 driest on record

Apr*3.1 MM*59 MM*2nd driest on record

May* 38.9 MM*110 MM

Jun* 197.3 MM*251 MM

Jul*33.1 MM*251 MM

Year to date (End of June)

341.3 MM*582 MM

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.