JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The National Water Commission (NWC) has entered into an agreement with Talawah Investments to provide water for both domestic and industrial use in sections of the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
  • Under the arrangement, the Ballater Avenue Well, which is owned and operated by Talawah Investments, will be connected to the NWC network.
  • The well has the capacity to provide up to one million gallons of water per day and will be used by the NWC as part of its drought mitigation strategy.

The National Water Commission (NWC) has entered into an agreement with Talawah Investments to provide water for both domestic and industrial use in sections of the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

Under the arrangement, the Ballater Avenue Well, which is owned and operated by Talawah Investments, will be connected to the NWC network.

The well has the capacity to provide up to one million gallons of water per day and will be used by the NWC as part of its drought mitigation strategy and during times when its systems may be malfunctioning.

Talawah Investments, a subsidiary of Jamaica Wells and Services Limited, is one of Kingston’s largest private water providers. It is an alternative source of water in times of drought, prolonged water lock-offs, or after a natural disaster.

Speaking at the official commissioning ceremony on Wednesday, August 27, at the company’s Ballater Avenue location, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said the well provides an abundant supply of reliable water, which is filtered and treated by de-nitrification and chlorination.

“The result is a product that surpasses the impeccably high standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) requirements for potable water, as well as all relevant government authorities,” he said.

Moreso, he said, the well is centrally located, and the infrastructure allows for the rapid loading of multiple tankers, adding that the well is capable of loading 8,000 gallons in 10 minutes for bulk metering to the NWC.

Within the context of the challenges being experienced in many parts of the country, due to the drought conditions, Minister Pickersgill said water supply systems, such as the Ballater Avenue Well, are critical to the development of the communities in which they are located.

“It is evident that we cannot rely solely on surface water to supply the needs of our growing population. In fact, the sections of the country that are served by groundwater are far better off in the present drought situation than the areas served primarily by surface water,” he pointed out.

The Ballater Avenue Well serves both residential and commercial customers in a number of areas including: Delamere Avenue, Delacree Road, Eden Avenue, Berwick Road, Galloway Road, Mission Road, Metcalf Road, and Burke Road.

Other areas include, Pretoria Road, Fitzgerald Avenue, Nelson Road, Wellington Road, Whitfield Avenue, Alexander Road, Rodney Road, sections of Maxfield Avenue, as well as sections of Waltham Park Road.

In the meantime, Minister Pickersgill said the NWC’s operations team continues to do trouble shooting and distribution improvements in the area, to include repairing valves, changing out sections of pipeline as well as other adjustments to the network.

“The improvement work being done in these areas will essentially provide water to communities that for years have not been able to receive water…Some of the areas that formerly received water on an intermittent basis will now see improvement in their supply because we now have an alternative means of supplying them with water,” he said.

He added that the NWC will be making arrangements to hold talks with members of each community about how to become connected, and to maintain a legal supply of water.

Minister Pickersgill said the gains to be made in relation to the improvement of the water supply to the areas served by this system, will require a participatory approach, in which every stakeholder undertakes responsibility for the stewardship of the water they receive and their supply systems.

Deputy Chairman of the NWC Board of Commissioners, Marjorie Fyffe-Campbell, said the agency is determined to increase access to and use of underground water supply sources, boost the number of available sources that can be used to augment drought-stricken systems, and improve inter-connectedness within the NWC network.

“The Board of Commissioners and Management of the NWC are fully seized of the critical importance of providing a reliable supply of water, even in the face of drought conditions to the health, economy, and well-being of a people,” she said.

Managing Director, Jamaica Wells and Services, Richard Simpson, stated that his company is “humbled and honoured” to be of service to the nation.

He informed that the company, which was formed by his parents, James and Monica Simpson, have over the 44 years of existence, acquired the latest tools and equipment relevant to the industry.

He informed that with the acquisition of additional land space in 2009, at numbers 9 and 13 Ballater Avenue, the company was able to expand as they were “bursting at the seams”.

“Just imagine all that you see here today with the exception of this new treatment plant, being housed on a small one acre lot,” he said.

In 2012, immediately after Hurricane Sandy, Tala-Water was the only facility able to supply emergency water in bulk to the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), and a large number of restaurants and schools, thereby ensuring that these facilities remained open to the public.

Since the start of the year, the NWC has been struggling with the ever increasing demand for its services, at a time when inflows into many of its facilities have been dwindling due to drought conditions.

Inflows into the Hermitage Dam, Mona Reservoir and Hope Filter Plant in the Corporate Area have dropped to approximately one third of what is needed on a daily basis.

The Climate Branch of the Meteorological Service last week reported that five parishes are experiencing normal drought, five parishes severe drought, and three parishes extreme drought.

Kingston and St. Andrew fall in the group of parishes experiencing severe drought, which also includes St. Thomas, with eight per cent of the normal June/July rainfall; Clarendon with six per cent; and St. Mary with four per cent.