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The National Water Commission (NWC) is to invest billions, this year, to improve wastewater treatment facilities in several areas across the island.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, in his Sectoral Debate Presentation in Gordon House on July 24, said the project will be undertaken in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

It will involve rehabilitating, replacing, retiring or building 14 wastewater projects. These include Boscobel, St. Mary; Elletson Flats, St. Andrew; Mineral Heights, Clarendon; and De La Vega City, St. Catherine, among others plants under the Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (CREW).

Minister Pickersgill outlined that within the next two to three weeks, requests for proposals in relation to the Boscobel and Elletson Flats plants will be published in the newspapers. "The amount involved in these projects is $1.06 billion and, subject to some minor housekeeping affairs, the funding for these projects is in place," he told the House.

The Minister also announced the NWC’s plan to address the sewerage problem in Portmore, St. Catherine. According to Minister Pickersgill, “work is being done to retire all the small wastewater plants in Portmore, St. Catherine owned and operated by the NWC, and to divert the flows to the Soapberry Treatment Plant.

“That project is now at the stage where bids have been invited by the National Water Commission and it is expected that the physical work on that project will commence this fiscal year," Minister Pickersgill said.

He also informed that the NWC will soon be embarking on the Port Antonio water, sewerage and drainage project, which will be undertaken at a total cost of $1.65 billion (US$18.2 million). The Minister said the contract will be signed shortly, and the contractor mobilised within a month. 

He also mentioned plans to explore the public/private partnership model (PPP) for three major wastewater projects in Old Harbour, May Pen, and Savanna-la-Mar, to be undertaken over the next three years.