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JIS News

Of all the earth’s natural resources, water is without a doubt, the most critical for sustaining life.
We celebrate our freshwater resources every year on March 22, which was designated World Water Day by the United Nations in 1993.
Every year, World Water Day draws attention to this important resource by highlighting a specific aspect of water.
This year’s focus on transboundary water, speaks to the political importance of integrated water management and the political commitments, particularly among countries that share water resources.
History has shown that “water” and “war” are not mutually exclusive concepts in the dry areas of the world.
Here in Jamaica, we are waging our own battle, not to protect our freshwater resources from encroachment by other countries, but from our own actions.
Even as the population grows, and demand for water increases, our critical water resources held primarily as groundwater are under increased threat.
Industrial, agricultural and domestic pollution; the effects of droughts and floods; wastage; and over exploitation of our watersheds and vulnerable ecosystems, are a few of the threats to sustaining our water resources that demand attention now.
A serious shift is needed in our thinking about water in Jamaica.
Fresh water must be seen, not as a discrete commodity, but holistically. It is part of a complex and delicate ecological unit which includes our wetlands and watersheds, providing health, sanitation and recreation among other benefits.
Any effort towards proper planning and management of our water resources must involve protecting our watersheds through stakeholder participation.
Reducing the impacts of pollution on our sources of water; increasing soil conservation activities; forming partnerships and building capacity is an important part of this process.
In addition, public education on the impact of everyday domestic, agricultural and industrial practices on our rivers and streams is critical if we are to prevent and reverse their detrimental effects on our water resources.
The availability of safe and reliable water supply plays a significant role in the ability of people to care for their families and earn a living. Adequate and proactive water resources management is essential for a country’s growth and the reduction of poverty. In effect, water drives development.
Economic growth and environmental protection must go hand in hand if Jamaica is to achieve its development targets.
As we join countries around the world in celebrating World Water Day, I urge all Jamaicans to help protect our watersheds. Plant a tree to reduce runoff, increase infiltration and conserve the soil.
Avoid dumping garbage and other forms of waste into our rivers and streams. Conserve water by turning off taps when brushing teeth and soaping in the shower. Repair leaks as they occur and reuse wastewater from laundry and bathrooms where possible.
Rainwater harvesting must be used as a tool to augment existing water supply and meet demands in areas of high rainfall.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that Jamaica continues to have ample supplies of good quality water for generations to come.
It is my hope that we will know the worth of the water we have, before the well is dry.

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