Private Operator of Water Supply System Reports 95 Per Cent Collection Rate


While some utility companies find it difficult to make collections for service offered, Michael White, Hydrology Consultant and entrepreneur who was granted a licence to operate a water supply system in St. Ann, is reporting a 95 per cent collection rate.
Mr. White is one of two entrepreneurs to be granted temporary licences by the National Water Commission (NWC) to operate a water supply system until new legislations are in place to allow for private operators to supply water to the public.
He was speaking at a Rural Water and Sanitation Programme (RWSP) workshop held recently by the Ministry of Water and Housing, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
“Our customers pay their bills on-time and the majority of them do pay,” he said. Mr.White supplies some 450,000 litres of water per day to commercial base customers in Ocho Rios.
He informed that his operations cost was not very high as the infrastructure was already in place and he was able to acquire one of the springs, which the Government had abandoned. Mr. White also said that the use of solar generated power pumps instead of electricity also attributed to low operational cost.
As a result, he said customers benefited and were charged 42 per cent of what the National Water Commission charged its customers. Not only does his customers benefit from low charges but he said they were provided with reliable water supply.
Mr. White said that while the business had not yet made a profit, he was determined to stick with it. “We lose money over the last two years and the reason we continue is because we believe that in the long run we will be making money,” he declared.
Asked by potential operators about the challenges faced in getting the licence, Mr. White said that the process was not difficult. Explaining the process, Eileen Salmon, Manager of Corporate Services at the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) said that application for a licence could be made through the OUR via an application form. “You must also satisfy the OUR that everything is in place,” she pointed out. She said that the licences would offer certain terms and conditions, such as environmental standards. The applicant is also charged a fee of $65,000 for the licence. Also participating in the workshop was E.G. Hunter, President of the National Water Commission (NWC) who also encouraged prospective operators to get involved in the business. “I am elated that other persons have come into the field. The prospects of having other players in the field are challenging and exciting. I welcome you to the fold,” he said.
The RWSP is a partnership between communities, through the Benevolent Societies, the Government, the private sector and other partners at all levels. The programme is aimed at improving the sanitation and health status of citizens in rural Jamaica, supporting the reduction of poverty among them, and encouraging citizens to participate in the development of their communities.
The Government has committed US$12.5 million to the programme, through a US$10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and US$2.5 million from the national budget.

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