JIS News

The National Water Commission (NWC) has acquired 23 standby generators, which will be installed at 18 water supply systems across the island.
The generators, which arrived in the island last week, form part of a US$10 million agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and India.
Speaking with JIS News, NWC’s Corporate Communications Manager, Charles Buchanan, said that the Commission’s ability to respond in the wake of a hurricane has been significantly enhanced with the purchase of the standby generators, which will be installed at well systems, water treatment plants and critical pumping stations.
“What it allows is for the water supply system to run at a minimum of 50 per cent capacity. Even though electricity supply may be disrupted, the generators will allow for continued operations,” Mr. Buchanan said.
“The main factor is that this would provide reliability of service even in instances where public power supply is disrupted or for some other reason, the delivery of power to the facility is not available,” he stressed.
He noted that the equipment is also part of the NWC’s modernisation and improvement programme.
Turning to other preparedness measures, Mr. Buchanan informed that the NWC has updated its Hurricane Disaster Manual, which is the first step in the company’s preparedness for the hurricane season.
The manual, which is updated between April and May each year, provides a long history of survival mechanisms for use after hurricanes by consumers, improvements to the NWC system for the future, as well as vital information on water supply systems.
Outlining the preparedness measures, Mr. Buchanan noted that, “after updating the manual, disaster committee meetings are held in which details of particular needs and changes for each water supply system is reviewed.”
Once the committees are fully activated, he said, “bulletins are issued by the (NWC) president to employees notifying them how to be fully prepared for the hurricane season.”
Turning to the ability of NWC personnel to respond, Mr. Buchanan said that the Commission’s manpower is fully prepared to deal with any approaching hurricane. Additionally, the necessary operational steps are being taken to clear over-hanging trees, service generators, among other preventative measures. If the country is affected by a hurricane, the Corporate Communications Manager maintained that equipment would be available to effect the necessary repairs to its system, as special purchases are being made.
“We have to ensure that we have on hand a significant number of critical items that we would normally need if the island is affected by a hurricane,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Buchanan urged customers to store water before a hurricane strikes. He also encouraged persons to ensure that one-way valves are on tanks to prevent water from flowing out.
“In the event of a storm or hurricane, water supply systems will most likely be disrupted, so be prepared,” said Mr. Buchanan. To further conserve on water, he encouraged the use of paper plates and obtaining proper water storage containers.
Commenting on the Commission’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, he noted that within 30 days, 95 per cent of water treatment and distribution was restored and that the Commission is looking to improve on this response rate.
As part of the agreement with India, some 140 pumps and smaller fixtures are expected in the island in subsequent shipments.

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