The Rural Water Supply Limited and the National Water Commission (NWC) will be embarking on a major rural water supply upgrading programme.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, in his Sectoral Debate presentation on July 24, reported that 26 projects have been slated for implementation over a three-year period at an approximate cost of $4.04 billion.
Minister Pickersgill said 23 of these projects have already been earmarked and when completed, these water supply systems will benefit approximately 250,000 residents throughout all parishes in Jamaica.
"This will increase rural water coverage in terms of access to potable water by 20 to 21 per cent,” the Minister told the House.
He explained that detailed designs have already started on six projects. These include Cascade/Claremont/Jericho in Eastern Hanover; Agualta Vale/Highgate/Islington/Richmond, St. Mary; Non-Pariel/Orange Hill/Retirement, Western Westmoreland; Burnt Savannah/Knoxwood, South West St. Elizabeth; Bull Head/Mason River/Kellits, Northern Clarendon and on distribution improvement in Eastern Westmoreland.
“Works on these six projects are estimated to cost $1.3 billion when completed and will benefit approximately 57,000 residents,” Minister Pickersgill explained.
He said the selection of these projects was based on the high population density and the most favourable rate of return in relation to the capital cost per person.
“It should be noted, however, that included in the project listing are constituencies with very little or no water; these will be given priority ranking in terms of implementation. These constituencies include North West Manchester, Northern Clarendon, North West Clarendon, North West St. Elizabeth, South East St. Elizabeth, South St. James and South East St. Ann,” Minister Pickersgill said.
The Minister also reported that grant funding has been obtained from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund a Rural Water Master Plan. This is a study to be conducted to ascertain areas in Jamaica without access to water and to provide solutions by employing different modalities, for example, piped solutions and rainwater harvesting systems.
Minister Pickersgill advised that an advertisement requesting quotations for engagement of consultants has already been published and that grant funding of $29 million, is being provided to carry out this study and to review and update the Water Sector Policy.
The Minister also reported that the Rural Water Supply Limited upgraded and rehabilitated several minor water supply systems in St. James and St. Elizabeth during the last financial year to the tune of $4.8 million. These included areas such as Castle Bush and Buena Vista in South St. James; Cool Water and Charity Spring in East Central
St. James; Ballards Valley in South East St. Elizabeth and Joint Wood to Nanny in North East and Top Redding to Haughton in north East St. Elizabeth.
“All of these areas are now receiving adequate water supply,” he told the House.