The issue of providing fresh water and adequate sanitation for urban areas is critical, especially since half of the world's population now lives in cities. By the year 2030, it is estimated that the number of urban dwellers is expected to rise to nearly 60 percent.

The theme for this year's World Water Day, "Water for Cities…Responding to the Urban Challenge" recognizes that the rapid growth in size and number of the world's cities has serious implications for the provision of adequate water and sanitation for urban dwellers. 

A ready supply of fresh, clean water and adequate sanitation can  spell the difference between clean, attractive cities ripe with the potential for further economic growth, or filthy, economically stagnant areas.

Like many cities around the globe, Jamaica’s urban areas have experienced enormous growth in population and tremendous expansion of the built environment.  As such, “Responding to the Urban Challenge” has required innovation, creative thinking and serious commitment from the Ministry, its agencies, and partners in the sector.

Three major water supply projects currently underway, are aimed at ensuring that there are adequate freshwater supplies and the necessary infrastructure to facilitate growing economic and domestic activity, in the sprawling metropolis of the Corporate Area and Southern St. Catherine. 

They are:-

The US$85M Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) Water Supply which will improve the reliability and quality of the water supply to the Corporate Area, Greater Spanish Town and South East St Catherine

The Kingston and St. Andrew (KSA) Water and Sanitation Project which will rehabilitate the potable water supply facilities, sewerage and sewage treatment for the KSA and

The Jamaica Water Supply Improvement project (JWSIP)


Of this lot, the flagship project is undoubtedly the JWSIP which is the most ambitious water supply project undertaken to date.

When completed, this US$210m project will add nearly 20 million gallons per day of potable water to the targeted areas. It will also reduce system losses and improve the operating efficiencies of the island’s major water provider, the National Water Commission.

The JWSIP also incorporates a number of water supply projects in several other parishes.

We are currently at one of the most crucial stages of the JWSIP which is the replacement of the old Rio Cobre asbestos cement pipeline, which brings water from Bog Walk along the Gorge to the KMA.   Although it may create some inconvenience for motorists and residents in the area, this upgrade is necessary as it will ultimately reduce leaks and improve the reliability of supply to the KMA.

As these projects demonstrate, the Ministry its agencies and partners are “Responding to the Urban Challenge”, and by partners I also mean you, the citizens of this country.  

The extent of our ability to deliver potable water to you, is dependent in large measure, on your ability to keep our freshwater sources as pollution free as possible. 

As we observe World Water day, the words of Hydrologists Frank and Francis Chapelle come to mind.   They state, and I quote… “The Romans realized, as have every civilized people since, that living in cities is impossible, if the water supply is not reliably clean and fresh."

Let us all work together in “Responding to the Urban Challenge”, so that our cities will be thriving meccas of social and economic growth and opportunity.


Issued By: The Ministry of Water & Housing

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