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  • The National Water Commission (NWC) has spent over $100 million since the start of the year to truck water to communities across the island adversely affected by the persistent drought.
  • The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change has also made $30 million available to all Members of Parliament for the trucking of water.
  • This was disclosed by portfolio Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who provided an update on plans to mitigate the drought at a press conference, held on July 1 at the offices of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), in Kingston.

The National Water Commission (NWC) has spent over $100 million since the start of the year to truck water to communities across the island adversely affected by the persistent drought.

The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change has also made $30 million available to all Members of Parliament for the trucking of water.

This was disclosed by portfolio Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who provided an update on plans to mitigate the drought at a press conference, held on July 1 at the offices of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), in Kingston.

He listed the trucking of water among a slew of short, medium and long term measures the NWC has instituted to deal with the current dry spell.

The Minister further noted that $5 million has been allocated to carry out minor repairs on some of the Rapid Response Units, which truck water; and that additional loading bays have been identified for the trucks.

“Four of our Rapid Response Trucks are now with the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) to help our farmers, particularly in the southern sections of the island, to cope with the drought,” he said.

Mr. Pickersgill noted as well that negotiations with the NIC have also been fast tracked to review the management of water supply sources used for irrigation and domestic consumption.

Another short term measure, he highlighted, is the $1 billion Artificial Aquifer Recharge Project, which is aimed at securing the sustainable extraction of water from the South St. Catherine Limestone Aquifer. “This project is underway and should be completed by the end of the year,” he said.

The Minister noted that the NWC has also embarked on a major Non Revenue Water reduction programme to significantly reduce losses in Kingston and St. Andrew, at a cost of more than $5 billion.

“(The NWC) continues to repair more than 3,500 leaks on average each month, and has undertaken a number of large projects islandwide, to replace old, leaking infrastructure,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pickersgill revealed that the Central Wastewater Treatment Company (CWTC) and the NIC are in discussions regarding a “Water Swap” initiative.

“Through this initiative, the CWTC would treat its wastewater to a particular standard, and this treated water would be given to the NIC for irrigation purposes, in exchange for the NIC’s raw surface water which would be treated and put into the system by the NWC,” he explained.

Turning to long term initiatives, the Minister informed that the NWC is reviewing its water supply plans, from which a comprehensive investment plan will be finalised to address recurring water shortages.

“These include the possibility of damming the Rio Cobre to provide an additional 50 million gallons per day to the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St. Catherine,” he said.

In addition, the NWA and the Water Resources Authority will be exploring the feasibility of distributing water from the North Western Parishes, in areas such as Rio Bueno in Trelawny, and Bogue in St. Ann, to areas of need in the southern and eastern sections of the island.