KINGSTON — Protecting Jamaica's public and environmental health, while supporting economic development, is the aim of the National Water Commission (NWC), as they strive to restore, upgrade and construct quality sewage treatment facilities across Jamaica.
Director of Communications at the NWC, Charles Buchannan, says that over 44 sewage treatment facilities have been identified for rehabilitation and reconstruction, under a sewage master development plan.
He told JIS News that of the 44 facilities identified, work has being carried out on 11 to date, enabling proper collection, conveyance, treatment and disposal of waste water under a Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (CReW).
The 11 wastewater facilities which fall under phase one include Mineral Heights, Longville Park, Elletson Flats, Ebony Vale, Acadia, Dela Vega, Greater Portmore, Ensom City, Boscobel, Blackwood Gardens and Yallahs stabilization ponds. In addition, work has been completed at the Ocho Rios, Negril and Harbour View treatment plants, which are already in operation.
Mr. Buchanan says that the NWC treats the three sewage treatment reactivation plants as significant milestones, especially the Harbour View and Negril plants. He also added that groundbreaking work was done on the Negril plant earlier this year, and it was completed ahead of schedule.
Funding for the Harbour View Treatment plant was extracted from the NWC’s K-factor funds, which are paid by customers. The European Union assisted in the upgrading of the Negril and Ocho Rios plants, and new sewer systems have been constructed in New Kingston, Hopefield Avenue, sections of Mona Road and roads leading off Hope Road in Kingston, enabling proper channeling of waste water into central plants.
“The scope of work being done is part of a determined effort by the NWC to protect the public’s health, because protecting public health is critical. Importantly, the agency has been exercising vigilance in how wastewater is treated,” Mr. Buchanan told JIS News.
He says that some of the facilities included in the sewage treatment master development plan, have been converted from sewage treatment plants to sewage pumping stations. These include the Wiggan Loop in Barbican and College Green in Liguanea, where new sewer lines were installed.
"The initiative taken to convert these facilities into pumping stations is, basically, to redirect the flow of sewage into a central sewage system to enable better treatment,” he explained.
Mr. Buchanan adds that tertiary treatment, which is the final stage, effectively refines the effluent, and is the standard that the NWC is aiming to achieve by 2012.
“Currently, I am pleased to say that sewage treatment has met the existing standards mandated by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which is at the secondary level,” he adds.
Mr. Buchannan notes that, as part of the agency’s commitment to support economic development, constructing proper working sewage treatment facilities are a priority.
"This I believe can improve property values, and increase the possibility of other structures," he says.
He adds that this will also create opportunities for various types of business activities, in areas which are critical to national development.
"The NWC is the only agency that spends money on this kind of enterprise, (and this is) primarily because we are dissatisfied with the level of treatment carried out at some of the sewage treatment facilities. We are working to bring them up to the required standard,” he says.
He told JIS News that NWC, through the MHEWLG, has adopted a more positive approach to sewage treatment, and is continuously working to correct environmental issues associated with wastewater treatment systems.
“We have put plans in place to get all the treatment plants to operate at the desired level, which is our primary goal. We have a lot more work to do but, in terms of achieving our objectives, we have to some extent,” he notes.
The projects undertaken are funded through the Ministry of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government (MHEWLG) and the National Water Commission (NWC) under a Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (CReW), in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), European Union (EU), the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
Other Supporting bodies include the National Works Agency (NWA), National Land Agency (NLA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS Public Relation Officer