JIS News

The US$50.6 million Soapberry wastewater treatment project in St. Catherine is on track for a January 2008 completion date, with the project now in the testing phase.
Project Manager Lloyd Grey, explained to JIS News that the process involves the loading of the treatment ponds with river water to check for strength and leaks and “for testing the load factor of the various ponds to see if they interact with each other as designed”.
Mr. Grey, who was on a recent tour of the facility, noted further that the procedure will assess the “anti-overflow mechanism, to check the electrical and mechanical equipment under load conditions and to test the general operational efficiency of the facility to internationally accepted standards as set out by the National Environmental Planning Agency (NEPA)”.
The Soapberry wastewater facility, which is intended to save the Kingston Harbour, involves the construction of a new treatment plant to improve the management of wastewater in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St. Catherine. Ground was officially broken for the project in January 2006.
Located on 160 hectares (400 acres), the treatment plant has an intake capacity of 75,000 cubic meters (18 million gallons) per day and can facilitate some 600,000 residential and commercial customers in the designated areas.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, who was also on the tour, expressed satisfaction with the project, noting that it will facilitate the reduction of untreated wastewater into the aquifers by as much as 70 per cent as well as allow for the expansion of sewage lines into new areas.
He noted further that the plant will reduce significantly, the sewage output into the Kingston Harbour.
Dr. Chang said what is impressive about the plant, is that it will offer an opportunity to boost the production of food stock by increasing the availability of water for irrigation purposes. “We currently take about 15 million gallons a day out of the Rio Cobre for irrigation. We need that water in the southern plains,” he stated.
Stating that the project will also improve the government’s ability to deliver housing stock, the Minister said that “right now, we’re having great difficulty increasing the housing stock in these areas because of a water problem. We can use the water from the Rio Cobre for potable purposes,” he noted.
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the National Water Commission (NWC), National Housing Trust (NHT) and Ashtrom Building systems are the partners in the project. The NWC, which is the primary agency for the management and operation of the completed plant, will have responsibility for delivering the sewage to the collection points, while Central Wastewater Treatment Company (CWTC), a new entity formed by the partners in the venture, will have responsibility for treatment.

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