Standpipe Issue Resolved – NWC to Receive Initial Payment of $35 Million


The National Water Commission (NCW) has agreed to halt its standpipe disconnection drive and the agency will be paid initially, $35 million of the more than $100 million it is owed for supplying water to community standpipes.
Water and Housing Minister, Donald Buchanan, who made the announcement in Gordon House yesterday, said the agreement came after a recent meeting with officials from his Ministry, the Local Government, Community Development and Sport and Finance and Planning Ministries and the NWC following the Commission’s decision to disconnect some 285 standpipes across the island for outstanding arrears.
As part of the deal, a joint audit of standpipes across the country would be conducted and the NWC would cease the disconnection drive followed by a process of rationalization of standpipes by the Local Government Ministry and the parish councils, to remove unutilized standpipes.
Minister Buchanan told the House, that the agreement not only addressed the present arrears to the NWC, but also charted a course for a more efficient, cost-effective, manageable and orderly process of delivering water to standpipes island wide.
On another matter, the Minister said that for the government to achieve its goal of 100 per cent access to piped water by all Jamaicans by 2010, particular attention would have to be paid to rural areas.
Mr. Buchanan, who was speaking against the background of the 2002 Survey of Living Conditions, which shows that access to piped water stood at 77 per cent, said that while the figure appeared commendable, there was a serious disparity in access on an urban/rural basis.
As such, he informed that several steps were being taken to address the situation under the Government of Jamaica/Inter-American Development Bank’s Rural Water Programme. Work is already underway under the initiative, with the construction of the Cotterwood Water Supply system in St. Elizabeth at a projected cost of US$2.4 million.
In addition, a contract was awarded for the construction of the White Horses/Botany Bay/Pamphret Water Supply in St. Thomas at a sum of US$3.4 million, while designs have been completed for the Mile Gully/Warwick Castle project in St. Mary and the Gravel Hill system in Clarendon.
For its part, the National Water Commission (NWC) will be undertaking its own Rural Water Supply Project, which will involve system rehabilitation works and supply upgrading and extension. The project will also provide for the establishment of new water supply systems that will benefit Milk River, Clarendon; Christiana/Spaulding in Manchester; Shettlewood, Hanover and Hope Bay/St. Margaret’s Bay in Portland.
Minister Buchanan said engineering designs for all four areas have been completed and tenders received for both supply and works. Construction and supply is expected to commence during the third quarter of this financial year.

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