JIS News

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  • The National Water Commission (NWC) will be implementing water restrictions as it moves to address an island-wide shortage in supply of the commodity due to unseasonably low rainfall since May.
  • Persons are being urged to: turn off all taps when not in use; turn off the water when soaping up while showering; refrain from washing your cars with a running hose or watering your lawns while supplies are low; fix leaks around the home; reuse and recycle water around the home wherever practical; and where possible, install water saving technology such as low-flow shower heads, low-flush toilets, composting toilets and waterless urinals, and faucet aerators, which break water flow into fine droplets to maintain "wetting effectiveness" while using less water.
  • The Government spent approximately $300million on the trucking of water, during the last financial year, and $80 million has been spent since April 1. In addition, a number of storage tanks are being upgraded across the island.

The National Water Commission (NWC) will be implementing water restrictions as it moves to address an island-wide shortage in supply of the commodity due to unseasonably low rainfall since May. By this weekend, a prohibition notice will be issued on the washing of vehicles, watering of lawns, filling of swimming pools among other activities.

Persons found to be in breach of the prohibition will be taken before the Resident Magistrates’ Court and may be directed to pay a fine. Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, in  a statement in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 2), warned that “we will be adopting a zero tolerance approach” to these activities.

He said that the measures being put in place are to best share the limited supplies among customers and, at the same time, stretch the available resources. He assured that “all steps will be taken to ensure that customers receive water during the stipulated supply periods,” and come Thursday (July 3), the NWC will begin trucking water to the most severely affected customers.

“We will be making available, two 8,000-gallon trucks from the Rapid Response Unit to truck water to persons in Clarendon,” Minister Pickersgill said. In addition, three 8,000-gallon trucks will be dispatched to serve residents in South St. Elizabeth, in addition to funds for the trucking of water.

Minister Pickersgill told the House that the amount of rainfall expected during May and June, which is the traditional rainy period, did not materialize. “Indeed, the amount of rainfall we received island-wide, fell below the 30 year average for what is normal at this time of year, and was not enough to make up the deficit of the dry season between December 2013 and April 2014,” he stated.

Affected water systems include: 2 in Hanover; 5 in St. James; 3 in Trelawny; 6 in St. Elizabeth; 5 in Manchester; 24 in Clarendon; 5 in St. Catherine; 21 in Kingston and St. Andrew; 19 in St. Thomas; 4 in Portland; 5 in St. Mary; and 11 in St. Ann.

The most recent data from the NWC indicate that storage levels at the two largest reservoirs, the Hermitage Dam and the Mona Reservoir, are at 83 per cent and 37 per cent respectively, and are falling daily.

Mr. Pickersgill also informed that inflows from the Yallahs River are now at 5.5 million gallons per day (MGD) down from a peak of 18MGD, while the Hope River is at 2.6 MGD from a high of 30MGD.

“This has affected production at the Mona Treatment Plant, which has limited its output from 16 MGD during the wet season to 10 MGD. Inflows from the Hope River into the Hope Filter Plant have also fallen off significantly with average inflows currently at 2.3 MGD, and average production of 4.2 MGD,” he said.

Also, inflows into the Hermitage Dam from the Wag Water River currently stand at 9.6 MGD, down from 18 MGD during the wet season.

“With the Constant Spring Supply Zone being extended to augment the supply from Mona and Hope, the projected drop in levels for the Hermitage Dam is 3 Million Gallons per Day,” Mr. Pickersgill informed.

The Minister is appealing to householders to adhere to the restrictions and put their own conservation measures in place.

Persons are being urged to: turn off all taps when not in use; turn off the water when soaping up while showering; refrain from washing your cars with a running hose or watering your lawns while supplies are low; fix leaks around the home; reuse and recycle water around the home wherever practical; and where possible, install water saving technology such as low-flow shower heads, low-flush toilets, composting toilets and waterless urinals, and faucet aerators, which break water flow into fine droplets to maintain “wetting effectiveness” while using less water.

“We must also re-embrace rainwater harvesting as an integral part of our water security efforts now and for the future. In the not-too-distant past, it was commonplace to find a backyard concrete tank in almost every rural household, where water would be stored for domestic and agricultural use,” he noted.

The Minister reminded the House of plans to have rainwater harvesting systems for developments enshrined within the building regulations. To that end, Rainwater Harvesting Policy guidelines are being prepared, which will be an integral consideration in the planning approval process.

The Government spent approximately $300 million on the trucking of water, during the last financial year, and $80 million has been spent since April 1. In addition, a number of storage tanks are being upgraded across the island.