JIS News

The National Water Commission (NWC) has spent more than $3 billion on the country’s sewerage systems over the last few years, and continues to treat with urgency the restoration and rehabilitation of sewage treatment plants.
Corporate Public Relations Manager NWC, Charles Buchanan, has said that over the last five years, the NWC had spent more on improving sewerage systems than at any previous time in history.
Mr. Buchanan, who was addressing the JIS Think Tank on January 21, also referred to new sewage schemes in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
“Those new schemes are working well, protecting not only the tourism product in those areas, but significantly, protecting the health of the local and visiting populations as well as the environmental ambience of the area,” he said.
In addition to these major projects, Mr. Buchanan cited other initiatives. “Many of these interventions are less bulky and with less funds, but nonetheless significant as well, in terms of minor improvements at several of the other wastewater plants we have across the island,” he told JIS News.
One of the major projects for 2004, the Port Antonio Water Supply, Sewage and Drainage Project, is in keeping with the Commission’s mandate to safely collect, treat and dispose of wastewater.
“The objective is that by the year 2020, we will have all major towns in Jamaica outfitted with a proper central sewage system,” Mr. Buchanan said.
The NWC official said the utility company was committed to protecting the environment and public health especially in relation to sewage and wastewater disposal.
He cited, however, instances where the Commission was not fulfilling its mandate, but indicated that steps were being taken to rectify the problems.
In the case of the Kingston harbour for example, Mr. Buchanan suggested that there were several factors contributing to this situation.
“While we accept that sewage, and sewage in relation to the NWC is a contributing factor, and we are dealing with that, it is to be recognised that there are many other contributing factors as well; the run-off from the gullies, from the Rio Cobre, industrial discharges etc.,” Mr. Buchanan told JIS News.
Turning to the sewage problem in Harbour View, he explained that the NWC inherited a treatment plant that had been ravaged by “aggressive” environmental conditions such as the salt air. Over the years, deterioration has continued apace and now the facility was not serving any “significant purpose”.
“There is a need for a new sewage treatment facility for Harbour View but in the meantime there is still a functional sewage conveyance system, which pumps sewage away from the homes. The Commission is, therefore, committed to putting in place a solution for Harbour View in the shortest possible time.
“The Minister last year indicated a series of steps which we are undertaking to correct the problems in Harbour View, and that also is part of the programme for the correction of sewage-related problems in the Greater Kingston area…In fact there is an urgent need to deal with the situation. We expect that will be one of the first of our sewage projects,” Mr. Buchanan told JIS News.

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