No Dam in Bog Walk Gorge

Photo: Dave Reid

Story Highlights

  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says no consideration is being given by the Government to convert the Bog Walk Gorge, in St. Catherine, into a dam.
  • The Minister explained that as a result of crevices along the gorge’s valley, which are composed of limestone, this could result in the disappearance of water stored in the dam into underground aquifers, consequent on activities, such as earth tremors.
  • Dr. Chang pointed out that the administration will instead, commence construction of the Rio Cobre water treatment plant, at a cost of approximately $6.1 billion (US$50 million), during the course of the 2016/17 fiscal year.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says no consideration is being given by the Government to convert the Bog Walk Gorge, in St. Catherine, into a dam.

This venture was being contemplated by the previous administration, consequent on the North-South Highway development, which currently provides an alternative route for vehicular traffic traversing the gorge.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) by the then administration in 2014, to conduct a feasibility study on the proposal.

However, speaking with JIS News on  April 27, Dr. Chang said the venture would prove a costly undertaking that offers no guarantee of the facility’s capability to store and supply the approximately 1,900 million gallons of water projected, to communities in sections of southern St. Catherine and the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA).

The Minister explained that as a result of crevices along the gorge’s valley, which are composed of limestone, this could result in the disappearance of water stored in the dam into underground aquifers,  consequent on activities,  such as earth tremors.

Dr. Chang said such an occurrence would result in the need for additional expenditure to extract the resource.

The Minister, who has responsibility for Water, Works and Housing, said construction of the dam would require extensive work, inclusive of re-routing the Rio Cobre river; locating the crevices in the valley and cementing and sealing the entire basin of the storage area to prevent possible seepage.

“It’s pointless engaging in that kind of expenditure when you will not have any guarantee (of achieving the targeted outcome)…that’s just not practical,” he added.

Dr. Chang pointed out that the administration will instead, commence construction of the Rio Cobre water treatment plant, at a cost of approximately $6.1 billion (US$50 million), during the course of the 2016/17 fiscal year.

This facility will complement the newly built National Water Commission (NWC) groundwater recharge system at Innswood, St. Catherine, which was developed at a cost of just over $1 billion with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan funding.

Both facilities are expected to significantly boost water supplied to communities in sections of southern St. Catherine and the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA).

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