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Story Highlights

  • The Government is advancing plans to combat the effects of drought, particularly in vulnerable communities.
  • The interventions are intended to ensure an effective monitoring programme is in place and facilitate the development of long-term plans to address the issue.
  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation,Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has emphasised that “water sustainability is at the core of national development”.

The Government is advancing plans to combat the effects of drought, particularly in vulnerable communities.

The interventions are intended to ensure an effective monitoring programme is in place and facilitate the development of long-term plans to address the issue.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation,Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has emphasised that “water sustainability is at the core of national development”.

“Therefore, significant consideration must be given to protecting our environment so that future generations can have access to this commodity,” he added.

The Minister was speaking at the Red Stripe Water Stewardship Knowledge Forum held on April 17 at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, under the theme ‘Every Drop: Water, Sustainability and Industry’.

 The event featured several presentations from industry leaders on strategies to provide safe, sustainable water sources for all.

The presentations also highlighted approaches to managing Jamaica’s water resources through which stakeholders can contribute.

Noting that Jamaica’s water sector is susceptible to multiple risks associated with climate change and variables such as hurricanes and drought, Mr. Charles said agencies, such as the National Water Commission (NWC) and Water Resources Authority (WRA), have been working tirelessly to protect and manage the distribution of the amenity.

Accordingly, the Authority has implemented strategies to ensure that water abstraction licence holders adhere to the conditions of their permits.

“This is effective in reducing the likelihood of saline intrusion, which will compromise water sources,” the Minister said.

Saline intrusion refers to the movement of salt water into freshwater aquifers, which can lead to contamination of drinking water sources, among other things.

Senator Charles further noted the Authority recently imposed volume-based fees to encourage conservation and increase efficiency among water users.

Another initiative of the Authority is the Managed Artificial Recharge (MAR) Project in Inswood, St. Catherine, which channels excess water from the Rio Cobre into the aquifers.

This initiative will increase and improve water quantity and quality in the lower Rio Cobre Basin.

Additionally, the NWC has embarked on the Kingston and St. Andrew (KSA) Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Co-Management Programme (NWC & Miya), at a cost of US$42.5 million.

Figures from the NWC show that Jamaica has a high level of non-revenue water totalling approximately 70 per cent.

The entity has, therefore, embarked on this five-year programme that will: establish sustainable NRW management capability at the NWC; reduce NRW in KSA to 30 per cent by the end of year five and maximise income collected by NWC; and prepare and implement strategies and action plans to improve NWC performance and efficiency.

“An integral part of growing the NWC customer base across the country must be converting consumers of water into customers. Through the use of geo-referencing of services and the Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, the NWC will be better able to identify illegal connections. They will continue to take the relevant steps to ensure once consumers are identified they are accounted for in the billing system,” Senator Charles added.