Water Abstractors to Begin Paying Fees April 1

Photo: Dave Reid Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang (left); and Chairman, Water Resources Authority (WRA), Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee (right) observe as Senior Hyrdologist, WRA, Michael Wilson, highlights the features of a water-level sensor. Occasion was a press conference at the WRA’s Hope Gardens headquarters on February 7, to announce the payment of water abstraction fees effective April 1.

Story Highlights

  • Effective April 1, some 159 licensed water abstractors will begin paying water abstraction charges/volume-based fees (WAC/VBF).
  • The charges are calculated based on the amount of water that the applicant is licensed to abstract and the purpose for which the water is used, and can be paid at the Water Resources Authority (WRA) located at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew.
  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the introduction of a water abstraction charge or volume-based fee is in line with the creation of an “agile, economically sensitive regulatory framework” in the water sector.

Effective April 1, some 159 licensed water abstractors will begin paying water abstraction charges/volume-based fees (WAC/VBF).

The fee is applicable to all persons who have a license to abstract and use water, and is being applied under the Water Resources (Water Abstraction Charges) Regulations, 2017.

The charges are calculated based on the amount of water that the applicant is licensed to abstract and the purpose for which the water is used, and can be paid at the Water Resources Authority (WRA) located at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the introduction of a water abstraction charge or volume-based fee is in line with the creation of an “agile, economically sensitive regulatory framework” in the water sector.

“This bodes well for the kind of development that we want to see in the lives of every Jamaican,” he said, while addressing a media briefing at the WRA on February 7.

He pointed out that implementation of the fee and the benefits to be derived in securing Jamaica’s water reserves is in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2030 to provide access to potable water for all Jamaicans.

Dr. Chang said the revenues collected will assist in research in hydrology and the hydrogeological ecosystem of water reserves. He added that it will help to improve the capacity of the WRA.

“It’s a very small extraction; it’s less than point one of a dollar per thousand gallons… . This fee is a very reasonable fee, and we seek their cooperation and look forward to working with all stakeholders… to ensure that we can continue to manage this very precious resource and maintain a very manageable and capable WRA,” he noted.

Managing Director, WRA, Herbert Thomas, said it is envisaged that approximately $50 million will be collected per annum.

He said applicants are licensed to abstract water for domestic/public supply, industrial, hydropower/recreational, and agricultural uses.

The WAC/VBF is necessary to: allow the WRA to reallocate water resources that have been allocated but are not being used; optimise water conservation and protect against overpumping; provide the authority with funding to conduct more research, modelling and monitoring of the water resources in order to ensure sustainable and reliable water resources yield; protect the rights of all water abstractors and third parties and disseminate water resources data and information to allow for informed decision-making.

The WAC/VBF was gazetted on May 29, 2017.

WRA is responsible for the management of Jamaica’s water resources. Pursuant to Part III, Section 19 of the Water Resources Act, 1995, the agency issues licences to persons who wish to abstract and use water; or to construct, alter or cause to be constructed or altered, any works for the abstraction and use of water resources.

The granting of permits and licences help the authority to ensure the rational and equitable allocation of water resources in order to minimise conflict among water users.

Over time, the Authority has noted an increase in the demand for water resources in hydraulic basins in the southern half of the island.

As prudent managers of Jamaica’s water resources, the Authority recognised the need to implement measures to encourage water conservation and allow for reallocation of water within these basins, in order to create a balance between the demands for water and the health of the aquatic environment and the aquifers.

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