The National Water Commission (NWC) is moving aggressively to implement measures to alleviate drought conditions, which are expected to continue to affect the island over the next two months.
President of the NWC, Albert Gordon, said the company has been working to implement a number of long and short-term measures in an effort to minimise the impact of drought conditions on the island.
Mr. Gordon was addressing a Drought Management Committee meeting, which was chaired by the Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, at his offices in New Kingston, on March 14.
He noted that as part of its short-term plans, the NWC has been working to contract additional trucks to transport water to residents affected by the dry weather.
The President said at present, the company has one truck per parish, and as such, has been contracting private trucks to assist in supplying water to affected areas.
“Based on our assessment, we need about 38 trucks to manage some of the areas that are now having serious problems with [water] supply, including some areas that we don’t normally supply, but the demand is strong and they are pressing the NWC for assistance,” he said, adding that the long-term goal is to purchase more trucks.
Additionally, the NWC has been collaborating with the Rural Water Supply Limited to repair a number of the wayside tanks in rural parishes to increase the supply to residents. The Commission has also been working to rehabilitate a number of its intake facilities.
Other measures include:
Accessing additional sources of water for treatment and distribution
Maximising existing sources of supply
Reducing losses from systems and improving the distribution network; improving the capacity to share water from least-affected systems with worst-affected systems Expediting water supply improvement projects that could possibly assist in drought mitigation
Increasing trucking capacity with priority to be given to hospitals, health centres, schools, public institutions, and communities which are severely affected for prolonged periods
In the meantime, Meteorologist, Evan Thompson, said there is a 40 per cent chance that the island will experience below normal rainfall over the next two months.
“The forecast for the next couple of months, at least to the end of April, is not a very positive outlook. During the month of February, we did not have any significant rainfall events to turn over the situation and to bring us out of the woods, and it is not likely that we will start to see these figures reduced…until the end of April,” he said.
He informed that data collected over a period of eight weeks, from December 2012 to the end of January 2013, indicate that all 14 parishes have been experiencing drought conditions, some worst than others.
The worst affected parish is Trelawny, which experienced extreme drought conditions, recording below 20 per cent rainfall for the period.
The parishes of Westmoreland, Clarendon and St. James also saw severe drought conditions for the period. Both Westmoreland and Clarendon experienced less than 33 per cent rainfall, while St. James received only 28 per cent.
He commented further that St. Mary (52 per cent), Hanover (48 per cent), and St. Catherine (45 per cent) experienced normal drought conditions.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter