Govt Taking Steps to Address Water Needs for Housing and Agriculture

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (right), gets assistance in operating a backhoe at the groundbreaking for the $131.9 million (US$1.03 million) Bay Farm Villa Sewerage Project in West Central St. Andrew on Friday, February 17.

The Government is putting measures in place to ensure adequate and reliable water supply to boost housing construction and agricultural production.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said he has requested data from the National Water Commission (NWC) outlining areas across Jamaica where there is significant demand for housing.

This, he said, is in order to determine how best the Government can target state resources to provide adequate water.  There have been cases where approvals for housing projects have been delayed due to lack of water.

“Once that information is provided, which I gather I will get in a few days, then the Government will start to make some policy decisions about getting the funds and making the necessary supporting legislative changes to ensure that where we see serious intentions for housing developments and the lack of water is an obstacle, that we direct Government resources to remove that obstacle,” he noted.

The Prime Minister said that, in so doing, “we will start to crank the engine of housing development, which will start to crank the engine of economic growth, which in turn will start to give people employment.”

He was speaking at Friday’s (February 17) groundbreaking ceremony for the $131.9 million (US$1.03 million) Bay Farm Villa Sewerage Project in West Central St. Andrew, for which he is the Member of Parliament.

He informed that similar measures are being considered to address water needs in the agriculture sector.

He noted that there were vast acreages of land island-wide which are ideal for cultivation, “but because of the lack of irrigation, we cannot truly benefit from the economic potential that exists in these lands.”

Citing the spike in the volume of agricultural outputs in 216 following the break in drought conditions,  Mr. Holness said this suggests that “once you are able to get reliable irrigation, we can rapidly expand our agricultural output.”

“We made a commitment to address the provision of water, both for domestic and irrigation purposes, in the country. We are going to try and deal with the housing and development issues and we are going to make a great effort to increase the number of irrigable acres available for agriculture,” Mr. Holness said.

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