KINGSTON — Consumers now have less to worry about the accuracy of water bills, as the National Water Commission’s (NWC) testing laboratory has been retrofitted and upgraded to ensure greater accuracy of its water meters.
The laboratory upgrading and accompanying facilities were made available under the Jamaica Water Supply Improvement project (JWSIP), at a cost of some US$14 million.
Minister of Water and Housing, Hon Horace Chang, says that the testing laboratory was a crucial component for providing an accurate platform for greater customer satisfaction.
“It’s critical that the customer accepts that when they get a reading from the Water Commission that the reading is accurate, and that depends on the character and quality of the meter,” he said.
The testing equipment in the laboratory was certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica.
Some 70,000 new water meters are to be installed between Kingston and Ocho Rios. The NWC will also be removing and testing some older meters. Those that have not outlived their usefulness will be retrofitted, tested and returned to service. So far, some 40,000 meters have been removed, 80 percent of which are reusable and so will be retrofitted and reused.
Maintenance Manager at the NWC, Patrick Hunter, who is in charge of the laboratory, is assuring the public that the testing process is accurate and thorough.
“The gist of the testing process is that we pass a known volume [of water] through the meter, from a tank calibrated and passed by the Bureau of Standard. So, if I release 100 litres of water through it, the meter should be recording 100 plus or minus the tolerance,” he noted.
Giving a breakout of the cost, Corporate Public Relations Manager at the NWC, Charles Buchanan, said the $14 million cost facilitated a significant investment in the quality delivery of service to Jamaicans, including the 70,000 meters, valves, tamper resistant devices, meter boxes, GPS locators, mapping and training meter department staff,
“It’s very important, because it will enable us to have more meters in the field and also more meters that are fully capturing customer’s usage at their premises,” he said.
Dr. Chang, however, issued a warning to home owners to ensure that they tend to leaks, as this can increase their water bills.
“The problem is that these meters will measure any water that goes through, and you’ll find home owners with leaks, a drip from a toilet or a kitchen sink, and just ignore it. If you do that you’re going to pay much more money, as these meters will measure any water that goes through,” he said.
He explained that it was not a matter of penalizing residents but the cost of producing potable water was quite expensive.
“The critical element in all of this is not the meter… it’s to have a reliable supply of water, and that’s what JWSIP is setting out to do and that’s what it’s setting out to do over the next 12 months,” he stated.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS Reporter