JIS News

In a bid to fulfill its commitment of providing access to safe drinking water for all Jamaicans, the Government has launched the Water Resources Master Plan Project, valued at US$171,000, under the Ministry of Water and Housing. The plan is an improvement over the first master plan published in 1990. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Jamaican Government are jointly funding the project at a cost of US$145,000 (grant) and US$26,000 respectively, under the guidance of McGill University Consultants, a Canadian-based entity.
The Water Resources Act of 1995 became law in April 1996 at which time the Water Resources Authority (WRA) was also created to manage, conserve, protect and allocate the nation’s water resources. In the 1970’s a water resources master plan was prepared detailing the available resources, the existing demand of the various sectors in order to design ways of delivery. The first project was established in 1985 with the first master plan being published in 1990, which revealed for the first time, the availability, quantity, type and location of water resources.
Speaking at the launch of the IDB Master Plan Project at the Island Life Building in New Kingston, Minister of Water and Housing, Donald Buchanan, said that the preparation of an updated Water Resources Master Plan was critical to the government meeting its commitment to provide Jamaicans with access to safe drinking water.
He said that the National Water Policy would be tabled in the House of Representatives towards the end of the year. He noted that the first master plan reflected a set of factors that prevailed between 1985 and 1990, which did not necessarily exist today.
“It has become abundantly clear that water management can no longer be treated as a sectoral issue for it cuts across a vast number of uses,” Minister Buchanan declared. In this regard, he noted that involvement of stakeholders in the development of the master plan was crucial.
Evan Cayetano, IDB representative, said the preparation of the plan was critical to the development of the country and as such, the IDB was committed to making a contribution. Currently, the IDB is involved in a number of projects, among them the Rural Water and Sanitation Project, the Kingston Harbour clean up and the Hydraulic Water Programme. Workshops to facilitate the participation of stakeholders will provide a platform for consultation. Thirty stakeholders have already been identified from government as well as non-governmental, private sector companies and community-based organizations. The first stakeholders meeting will take place in January 2004. A draft master plan will be presented by October 2004. Upon conclusion, it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval and then tabled in Parliament. Implementation of the recommendations of the plan will take place between late 2004 and early 2005. However, certain aspects of the master plan such as, allocation of water resources and assessment of ground water resources are being carried out before the conclusion and implementation of the master plan.
Dr. Chandra Madramootoo, Consultant at McGill University and Water Resources Management Engineer, said the update would see new ideas, new concepts, new technologies, and best practices from the world being applied to the Jamaican situation. He said it would be necessary to revise and update much of the information included in the previous master plan.
This would be undertaken through an inventory of water resources throughout the island, and the demand for the commodity.
Furthermore, he said, there would be an inclusion of new aspects related to water quality and the environment, environmental flows for water, eco systems requirement for water and some of the newer risks associated with the provision of water due to climate change. “We believe that these will be significant improvements to the previous water resources master plan,” Dr. Madramootoo stated.
He informed that some of the key issues to be addressed in the reports would be, institutional capacity, issues of governance, transfer of ownership of systems to water users, the pricing of water and the finances required to upgrade and rehabilitate infrastructure. He pointed out that public consultation would be a major aspect of the process.
Concepts with respect to water conservation, re-use and recycling, the improvement of the efficient use of water in agriculture, irrigation, domestic and industrial consumption to help to meet the growing demands of the economy, will be considered.

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