JIS News

The National Water Commission (NWC) and Trinidad and Tobago’s principal provider of water and wastewater services, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) have indicated a commitment to helping each other to strengthen operations.
This was signalled by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for mutual professional cooperation on Wednesday (April 19).
Corporate Public Relations Manager at the NWC, Charles Buchanan told JIS News that the signing of this MoU could only serve to improve the performance of the two utility companies in the delivery of their services.
“There is much to be gained from us as service providers in the water and wastewater sector looking at our operations together, examining areas of potential cooperation and strengthening, seeking to benefit not only our employees, and not only our organisations, but ultimately our customers as well,” he said.
The MoU specifically aims at facilitating the exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills in areas such as Water and Wastewater Treatment, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Desalination, Customer Services, Revenue Protection and Recovery, Financial Modelling and Strategic Planning.
“We will also be cooperating in other ways, such as employee training and development. Where before it may not have been feasible to undertake programmes of specific training in some water-related discipline because of the small number of employees that the theme would relate to in NWC for instance, with a cooperative arrangement between NWC and WASA, we could see it becoming far more feasible to undertake these specialised, detailed, water-related and wastewater-related training programmes for our employees,” Mr. Buchanan informed.
According to the Public Relations Manager, the MoU recognises the similarities between both utility companies in terms of challenges faced, the need for technical and research expertise, the governmental structures through which they report and which broadly govern their operations, and the Caribbean cultural context within which their services are being delivered, as well their differences in terms of how they are funded and the extent of demands placed on their respective operations.
“We are examining all those similarities and differences to see how the sharing of information, the sharing of experiences, the development of programmes in a cooperative environment can best benefit the organisations,” he outlined.
To this end, the agreement, which was signed last week, was not an exclusive one, he pointed out, as it left room for expansion in terms of the areas of cooperation.
“Essentially what the MoU sets out is the broad framework to say ‘here are some areas that at this point in time we know have significant potential.’ But the MoU is also very futuristic enough to leave some of the details of the cooperation down the road to be open. So if we find as we work closer together that there are areas, which were not previously identified that become areas of cooperation and benefit, we can easily develop the cooperation along those lines,” Mr. Buchanan explained.
Continuing, the NWC Corporate Public Relations Manager said that already, implementation of the agreement had begun. He noted that at last week’s signing, five representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago utility company arrived in the island to take part in the first of a series of exchange programmes.
“We had a series of meetings and a day was dedicated to physical tours and visits to a number of sites of the National Water Commission facilities to see exactly how they were functioning…it is expected that during the course of this year, Jamaican representatives from the National Water Commission will make similar visits and tours to WASA in Trinidad and Tobago, and will out of that further the process of cooperation,” he said.
Some of the NWC facilities and projects visited by the Trinidad and Tobago team include the Martha Brae Water Supply Project (also called the North-western Water Supply Services Improvement Project) in Trelawny, the Mona Water Treatment Plant in Kingston, the Ocho Rios Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Ann, and the Great River Treatment Plant in St. James.
The MoU between the NWC and the WASA will be evaluated annually to determine its effectiveness and shortcomings, at which point appropriate changes will be made to improve its viability, Mr. Buchanan told JIS News.
“The programme also intends to establish some critical means of monitoring its own effectiveness and ensuring that the results are tangible and measurable,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Buchanan informed that the signing of the agreement for mutual professional cooperation was just, “the beginning of similar cooperation with other water utilities within the region”.
There have been some initial discussions with the water utility in Barbados. Similarly, several of the other Caribbean islands have indicated some interest in doing so as well. “It is expected that as the relationship between the NWC and WASA deepens it will explore if and how we can broaden the Memorandum of Understanding to include these other water utilities,” he said.