JIS News

KINGSTON — Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL) has embarked on a comprehensive upgrading programme, to provide rural areas with a reliable water supply.

The company, which falls under the Ministry of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government, is involved in several projects, including the Comfort Hall, Copperwood and Richmond Hill project in St. James, which will benefit 2,700 residents and is funded by the Ministry, RWSL General Manager for Engineering, Douglas Wilson, disclosed.

He explains that RWSL is an engineering project management company, which carries out foundation work on the projects but, upon completion, these projects are turned over to relevant authorities, such as the National Water Commission (NWC), Parish Councils, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) or the communities themselves.

“The water supply will be on a regular basis, but billing arrangements may differ if they are taken over by the Parish Council or the National Water Commission (NWC),” he notes.

Mr. Wilson points out that although Copperwood, Comfort Hall and Richmond Hill are distinct communities, in close proximity, with separate water supplies, they will be packaged as one project.

Work is also being carried out at the Maldon and Chatsworth primary schools in Maroon Town, St. James, involving a Rain Water Harvesting System, as well as an Ultra Violet (UV) disinfectant which a substitute for chlorine.

The rain water harvesting projects, at both schools, are initiatives of the Ministry, in keeping with its goal to ensure that all schools have access to potable water. Rain water harvesting systems are already in place at the schools, but they need upgrading.

These projects have been progressing steadily, and should be completed by March 2012. The scope of work includes installing 2000-gallon PVC tanks, constructing concrete tanks and upgrading bathroom facilities.

“Both water supplies are being used as pilot projects, with the hope that other schools in the rural areas may benefit from the lessons learnt which, we hope, will be positive,” he points out. He also notes that there are many schools in these areas with electricity which could resort to solar energy and save excessive energy use, which is the rationale behind the projects.

Admitting that there are a number of rural communities without potable water, the RWSL engineer says the problem is being addressed. He adds that the mandate of the company is to develop projects to close the gap, irrespective of location and the extent of the project.

The RWSL acts on the behalf of the Ministry and other Government entities in the construction and upgrading of projects, and provides water to areas not normally covered by the NWC. It also has its own mandate in investigating water needs.

“We, basically, match demand and supply, and carry out an analysis to determine the type of treatment needed,” he says. 

In addition, there are a lot of small projects being completed, but which have been challenges in terms of funding. He says that while the Ministry provides the RWSL with an annual budget, the cost of the scope of work sometimes exceeds the budget. He also noted that with the population expanding, there is a continuous need to upgrade water supplies.

“We are working towards that goal which ducts into the Vision 2030, in line with our mandate, which is to provide sustainable water supply across Jamaica,” he says.

He also notes that, compared with other countries, Jamaica has the largest water project not involved with the recycling of waste water.

He also adds that the Water Resources Authority of Jamaica (WRA), which is the primary expert in terms of resources, has to grant permission to the RWSL and the NWC to extract water in Jamaica.

A number of local water projects have been funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), European Union (EU) and Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). Other key players include the National Works Agency (NWA) and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).


By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO