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The Government is to spend US$13 million over the next five years on a major project aimed at reducing water loss and improving supply of the precious commodity to residents of Portmore in St. Catherine.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (December 17), signed the contract for the Portmore Co-management Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Programme, during a virtual ceremony from Jamaica House.

The programme activities, which also have the objective of improving the overall efficiency of National Water Commission (NWC) operations, will be executed by the Commission in partnership with global water utility company Miya Water Jamaica, under a performance-based contract.

Mr. Holness, in his address at the signing, pointed out that water loss due to old, leaky infrastructure, inefficiencies and theft, is costly to the Government.

“At some points, as high as 70 per cent of the water generated would have gone into either technical loss that means the system is leaking or through illegal abstraction,” he noted.

Mr. Holness said that the programme is a step in ensuring that “we are maintaining the infrastructure, we are detecting the leaks”.

He noted that through the undertaking, the NWC will be able to determine where the leaks are on the Portmore water network, repair them quickly and regularise meters.

He said that the project involves social engagement and interaction with the citizens as part of the ongoing effort in addressing non-revenue water loss.

Newly appointed NWC Chairman, Michael Shaw, explained that under the Portmore NRW programme, old pipes will be replaced to reduce leaks and modern meters installed, so that the customers can benefit from more accurate bills.

In addition, he said that more residents will be added to the network, thereby regularising their water supply.

For his part, former Chairman of the NWC and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, said that through the programme, Government is aiming to reduce the level of NRW in Portmore to 30 per cent by the end of the project period.

“Most importantly, though, we want to distribute water at acceptable and sustainable pressures in order to improve regulatory compliance according to the standards of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and especially to enhance significantly, customer satisfaction,” he said.

Country Manager, Miya Jamaica, Alvaro Ramalho, informed that the immediate activities to be performed under the programme include identification and geographical information system (GIS) validation of all NWC customers, and a study of the customer service data to determine where the illegal connections are located and where the meters are to be installed.

There will also be an upgrade to the infrastructure, including metering.

The Portmore programme is expected to result in the expansion of the NWCs capacity for sustainable NRW reduction; lower maintenance and operational costs to correct leaks; increase supply efficiency and reliability to more than 200,000 persons, inclusive of residential and commercial customers and institutions; enhance operational improvement and energy savings; and increase high quality and continuous water supply.

A similar, ongoing $42-million undertaking in Kingston and St. Andrew has been recording positive results in reducing NRW.

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