JIS News

Story Highlights

  • National Rainwater Harvesting Policy is currently being strengthened to facilitate this undertaking
  • Decentralized harvesting and storage of rainwater, and small scale storage at the household level
  • Water: Too Much, Too Little, Unusable or in the Wrong Place

It will soon be mandatory for all housing developments to have provisions facilitating rain water harvesting whether or not they are connected to a central water supply system.

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who made the disclosure yesterday (Nov. 8), said that the National Rainwater Harvesting Policy is currently being strengthened to facilitate this undertaking.

Additional provisions being proposed for incorporation in the policy include: decentralized harvesting and storage of rainwater, and small scale storage at the household level.

These provisions form part of the Ministry’s efforts to pursue and implement initiatives to effectively address issues relating to the adequate provision of water, particularly for domestic use.

The policy currently requires persons undertaking developments to provide their own domestic water where there is no connection to central water systems.

The Minister, who was speaking at the World Town Planning Day lecture held at the National Housing Trust (NHT) head office in New Kingston, noted that over the past five years, Jamaica has experienced challenges with the availability of abundant supply of water, and lamented the scarcity of this “important resource.”

The Minister pointed out that agriculture, urban settlements, the transportation sector, mining, and tourism developments, among other activities, “have all created a (greater) demand for water.”

Additionally, he said, recent censuses show a “huge” demand for water in the areas of the country having the largest population concentration, being the southern coastal plains of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and Clarendon.

“Consequently, the necessary capital outlay has to be identified to facilitate the conveyance of water resources to these and other centres of demand elsewhere in the country. It is recognized that rain water harvesting by individual property owners is one of the ways of reducing demand on the public system,” Mr. Pickersgill stated.

The Water Minister assured that the policy’s “merit” will evolve “in the coming months and years”, as Jamaica, like other small island developing states (SIDS), “grapples” with the impacts of climate change, “which will include shorter and wetter ‘wet’ periods, and protracted ‘dry’ periods.”

World Town Planning Day is commemorated annually on November 8 in 30 countries globally, including Jamaica, which has been observing the day since 1980.

It aims to promote a better understanding and heighten awareness of planning issues by public and private sector stakeholders, and the wider citizenry

This year’s global observance was held under the theme: ‘Water: Too Much, Too Little, Unusable or in the Wrong Place’.

Jamaica’s activities commemorating the day, were organised  by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and featured a public lecture by NHT Chairman, Easton Douglas, as well as displays by several organizations; and stakeholder discussions.

Other entities partnering with NEPA to stage and participate in the event included: the NHT; Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM); Urban Development Corporation (UDC); Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation  (KSAC);  Jamaica Institute of Planners (JIP); and University of the West Indies (UWI).