Water and Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has announced a $477 million mitigation programme to address the islandwide water shortage triggered by the prolonged drought Jamaica is experiencing.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, Dr. Chang said the programme entailed several measures, which are expected to bring relief to householders in districts, particularly in the northeastern and southern sections of the island, including the Corporate Area which has been experiencing low rainfall.
The measures, which are being jointly undertaken by the Ministry and the National Water Commission (NWC), include an aggressive and extensive public education programme, highlighting the impact of the prevailing situation and conservation measures that can be employed to assist in mitigating the problem to be undertaken at a cost of $17 million.
Other measures are: a black tank distribution programme by the Ministry in conjunction with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) costing some $15 million; the trucking of water by the NWC and local authorities over the next six months, at a cost of $297 million; restoration of some five wells throughout the Corporate Area, at a cost of $142 million dollars, to provide an additional five million gallons of water; and the completion of 22 rural water supply projects, three of which have already been commissioned, at a cost of $97.2 million.
Water and Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang (right), emphasises a point while addressing journalists at Wednesday’s (December 9) post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House. Looking on is Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz.
Dr. Chang said that the wells being restored are located at: King’s House; Devon House; Hampstead, Mountain View Avenue area; Rennock Lodge, East Kingston; and Havendale, St. Andrew.
He said that the King’s House well should be on stream by February, and has a good supply and quality of water. Devon House has to be assessed for its volume and quality. Hampstead, which went down because of vandalism and social conflict in the area, is an excellent well, he said, with a yield of about one million gallons per day and Jamaica Wells is working on that facility.
The Rennock Lodge well was taken out of commission over 10 years ago because of saline intrusion. By now it should be in good order, it is being tested and should be able to provide good quality water in that area.
He said that a small well in the Havendale area will also be brought on stream by February.
Dr. Chang also disclosed that the NWC will be embarking on a “more aggressive” leak and repair programme, because leaks are not affordable for any prolonged period during the drought.
“So by February, we are confident that in addition to the trucking and the other mitigation. and conservation measures, we should be able to bring on stream (upwards of) an additional five million gallons of water in the Corporate Area (and other sections of the island),” he said.