• JIS News

    Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, is bemoaning the environmental degradation that is taking place in the Blue Mountain range, in the interest of coffee production.
    He said that whilst Blue Mountain Coffee, is treasured and valued as the finest coffee in the world, and could be regarded as part of Jamaica’s economic fibre, cultural practices surrounding coffee production in the Blue Mountains, are damaging the slopes in a manner that is not sustainable.
    The Minister was giving the keynote address at the opening of the 17th annual Conference and Exhibition of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), held at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club, in Montego Bay, St. James on October 6.
    “One of the critical problems in developing countries is the abuse and destruction of watersheds… overbuilding, shift in agriculture, poor cultural practices, often times, destruction of the forest, to put in tree crops or trees, as we have in the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, where much of our primary forest and even secondary forest coat are being destroyed to plant coffee,” he said.
    With the Blue Mountain range being the main watershed area for several water sources on the eastern side of the island, the Minister argued that improved management of the watershed areas is imperative.
    “Degradation of the environment compromises the water supply system. Ultimately, it leads to reduction in rainfall. In addition, it leads to significant soil erosion, which sometimes destroys important elements of our water infrastructure, which can require costly replacement or repairs,” he stated.
    He cited the estimated $700 million infrastructural damage suffered by the National Water Commission (NWC), following the recent passing of Tropical Storm Gustav, much of which occurred in the Blue Mountain region, where several sections of the intake for the Yallahs water supply system suffered damage, with some major pipelines being washed out.
    The Minister highlighted soil erosion as one of the main contributors to the damage.
    He emphasised that development in the Corporate Area, is largely dependent on the continued health of the Blue Mountain region, as it is the source of all the water supply for that area. He said that what is taking place in the Blue Mountains should be the concern of all well thinking Jamaicans, as it is “destroying a part of our environment that we cannot afford to destroy.”
    The conference will last until October 10, with technocrats and officials from the water sector across the region participating.