JIS News

Minister of Health and Environment (MOHE), Rudyard Spencer, has said that the Ministry is moving swiftly to finalise National Drinking Water Regulations under the Public Health Act, to ensure that all Jamaicans have access to safe and adequate water supply.
The Minister was speaking on (Nov. 7) at the Regional Water Safety Plan (WSP) workshop at the Pegasus Hotel, where he unveiled the WSP developed by Jamaica, which will become a template for the development of other plans in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
According to Mr. Spencer, the regulations to be put in place will “make the development of WSPs a mandatory requirement for the approval and operation of drinking water supplies (to) shift the responsibility for quality assurance and quality control from the regulators to providers of drinking water”.
The regulations, he said, will also “make it mandatory for all providers of public drinking water supply to obtain MOHE approval to operate all public water supply systems whether in the public or private sector; mandate new test methods such as those to eliminate parasites such as giardia, cryptosporidium and pesticides; strengthen surveillance and enforcement capacity; allow the Ministry to approve (not accredit) laboratories involved in drinking water quality testing; and stipulate the reporting requirements to the MOHE by these laboratories.”
Mandating the development of WSPs, the Minister said, will ensure that gains to reduce the prevalence of typhoid fever and other water-borne diseases are sustained, and assist Jamaica to meet goal seven of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
He said that the government also hopes to achieve its national goal of ensuring that by 2010, all Jamaican households have access to potable water and sanitation. “Aggregated, 71 per cent of the population has access to piped water. The government projects to increase this figure to 85 per cent by 2010,” he said.
In 2005, Jamaica was selected by the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) to pilot the development of a WSP for the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Using the National Water Commission’s Spanish Town Water Treatment Plant, the plan was developed by the Central Health Committee in collaboration with the PHAO/Centre for Disease Control/ Environmental Protection Agency (PAHO/CDC/EPA) Partnership and stakeholders representing a wide cross sector interest.
The primary objectives of the plan are to minimize the contamination of water sources and facilitate their purification through the use of approved treatment methods.