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Pipe-laying exercise being undertaken by the National Water Commission (NWC) along Mandela Highway in St. Andrew.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • The National Water Commission (NWC) will shortly complete and officially commission into service several major water-supply systems as part of its drive to better serve communities across the island.
  • Key among them is the Essex Valley water system in St. Elizabeth for which just under $100 million has been expended over a four-year period.
  • Making the disclosure during an interview with JIS News recently, President of the NWC, Mark Barnett, informs that the system, which is expected to be completed by March, will result in improved service to the Junction community.

The National Water Commission (NWC) will shortly complete and officially commission into service several major water-supply systems as part of its drive to better serve communities across the island.

Key among them is the Essex Valley water system in St. Elizabeth for which just under $100 million has been expended over a four-year period.

Making the disclosure during an interview with JIS News recently, President of the NWC, Mark Barnett, informs that the system, which is expected to be completed by March, will result in improved service to the Junction community.

“We have made the investment to improve the water supply to that growing township in St. Elizabeth, which will also improve supply to those communities leading to Junction as well,” he notes.

The agency will also shortly complete the Non Pariel/Orange Hill /Retirement project in Hanover, which is being undertaken at a cost of $95.3 million. The project entails construction of a storage tank and the laying of pipelines.

In addition, the $82.4 million Hounslow water-supply system in St. Elizabeth is near completion. This involves the laying of pipelines from Hounslow Well to Newell Square and Williamsfield to Barbary Hall.

Mr. Barnett tells JIS News that over the last 12 months, the NWC has completed a number of projects to further improve its service, including rehabilitation of the Iter Boreale system in St. Mary at a cost of $26.84 million.

He notes that communities in the eastern end of the parish were seriously affected by drought conditions in 2014 as the system “had gone down tremendously low, inhibiting our ability to produce potable water”.

“What we have since done is to drill a new well in that area, which will produce upwards of about two million gallons of water per day (which is) quite adequate to augment the existing system. But in addition to that, we are in an advanced stage of completing a transmission main from that system to Windsor in Portland,” he informs.

Mr. Barnett says that the additional output from this source will significantly improve service to Windsor as well as build reliability in supplying Highgate, Annotto Bay and Agualta Vale.

The NWC also completed emergency works to protect the Constant Spring raw-water system at a cost of $97.6 million.

“A transmission main that leads from the hermitage dam to the water treatment plant at Constant Spring/Long Lane was at risk and so we had to… protect that main so as to ensure that we continue to produce and distribute water to the city,” Mr. Barnett tells JIS News.

National Water Commission (NWC) workmen carry out pipe-laying works along Constant Spring Road in St. Andrew.

Other projects that the NWC has completed over the period are the Toll Gate to Rest pipeline replacement project in Clarendon at a cost of $80 million; the Goldmine/Cocoa Ridge water-supply system in St. Catherine at a cost of $67 million; the Christiana Water supply village distribution system in Manchester – $13.6 million; and the Mason River system in Clarendon – $35.7 million.

The NWC President informs that the agency worked in tandem with the National Works Agency (NWA) on road development projects. These include the Marcus Garvey road rehabilitation, which entailed the installation of new sewers along Marcus Garvey Drive at a cost of $223 million.

“The Barbican Road sewer and potable pipelines new installation was done at $131 million. In the same area, we have extended the sewer system up the Millsborough Gully, done at a cost of $35 million. That is really to support the increased housing densities within those areas, and so the sewers play a vital role in that area,” Mr. Barnett further informs.

Mr. Barnett says the NWC has collaborated with developers on projects where there is a need for services that the existing NWC systems cannot accommodate.

“We worked closely with a developer on the Phoenix Park Housing Development over in Dunbeholden Road in St. Catherine where we laid water-transmission mains from the Spanish Town Bypass to that development as well as a sewer conveyance system from the development to the Greater Portmore facility. The water-transmission main was done at a cost of $156 million and the sewer transmission main was done at a cost of $82 million,” he informs.

The NWC operates more than 1,000 water-supply facilities islandwide, supplying approximately 190 million gallons of potable water each day to persons across Jamaica from rivers (via water treatment plants), springs and underground wells.

This represents more than 90 per cent of Jamaica’s total potable water supply. Municipal corporations, the Runaway Bay Water Company, the Four Rivers Development Company, and a small number of other private water companies provide the rest of the potable water supply.

Approximately 70 per cent of Jamaica’s population is supplied via house connections from the NWC, and the remaining 30 per cent obtain water from standpipes, water trucks, wayside tanks, community catchment tanks, rainwater catchment tanks and direct access to rivers and streams.