Water Minister Highlights Negative Effects of Climate Change


Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has highlighted the negative effects of climate change on small island states, such as Jamaica, which contribute the least to this phenomenon, but are most impacted by it.
“Small island states like us … are likely to have more severe effects from extreme weather conditions than large countries and therefore, are likely to suffer more from changes in climate,” the Minister said.
Dr. Chang was speaking recently, at a handing over ceremony, at which the Water Resources Authority (WRA), an agency of the Ministry, handed over equipment, valued at just under $1 million, to the National Meteorological (MET) Office, at the agency’s head office, at Hope Gardens, in St. Andrew.
“In view of what is happening in the world today, in terms of climate change, some of the problems we have could get worse, unless we take steps to adapt. We need to take steps to manage our watersheds properly,” the Minister said.
He stressed the importance of the work and role of the WRA, as it makes a contribution to Jamaica’s development and the security of its water supply.
Director of the MET Service, Sylvia McGill, thanked the Minister and the WRA for the equipment.
“This is just one of the steps in this collaborative effort with other main stakeholders, and the MET Service is committed to continue to work, to ensure that our high quality of data is maintained,” she said.
“This rainfall intensity equipment is most welcomed and will enhance our ability to monitor rainfall intensity in the project area. We will continue to work with the WRA’s Chief Hydrologist in completing the site selection and preparation for these stations, so that installation can begin as soon as possible,” Mrs. McGill added.
The items include a rainfall intensity gauge; a Hewlett Packard HP 530 1.86 GHZ Celeron laptop, with 1 GB of memory; five Casella Class A Evaporation Pans, with hook gauges and still wells.
The rain gauge and laptop form part of the equipment supplied under the pilot Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) Project within the water sector. The rain gauge will be used to monitor rainfall intensity within the basin and the laptop is to be used to download the rainfall intensity data from the gauge. This data will then be stored in a database, according to Deputy Managing Director of the WRA, Herbert Thomas.
Evaporation pans were purchased with the objective to provide data for the WRA’s calculation of water balances, a critical output of the National Water Resources Development Master Plan, and for assessing climate change impact.
The National MET Service will install, operate and maintain the rain gauge and evaporation pans and store the data in a database. The Project provided funding for the implementation of a pilot vulnerability and capacity country assessment in the water, agriculture, ecosystem and tourism sectors across the Caribbean region. Jamaica was selected as the country to undertake the vulnerability and capacity assessment, focussing on the water sector.
The pilot project focussed on assessing how climate change and sea level rise will impact on a coastal limestone aquifer, and the feasibility for establishing a network of rainfall intensity measuring stations, to cover the study area. The study area selected was the limestone aquifer of the Rio Minho Hydrologic Basin, located on the Clarendon and Vere Plains, which are in southern Clarendon along Jamaica’s south coast.
Under the project, the WRA received an intensity rain gauge as well as a laptop for downloading the data from the intensity gauge. This equipment is to be operated by the MET Service, which has responsibility for the collection and analysis as well as publication of rainfall data/information and should strengthen its national rainfall gauge network. The intensity gauge is to be installed within the recharge area of the Rio Minho Hydrologic Basin, the input area of water resources for the Clarendon Plains.
The Mile Gully-Walderston area, in Manchester, has been chosen as the site for the installation of the intensity gauge. This area contributes significantly to groundwater in the pilot project site, and flooding in the Porus/Harmons area. The data will allow for more reliable analysis of extreme rainfall events.
Under Section 16 of the Water Resources Act (1995), the WRA is mandated to provide the Minister with a National Water Resources Master Plan, which will include inventories of resources, demand and water balances. Accurate and continuous climate data is most important to the determination of the inventories and water balances as well as marking climate changes in the island’s hydrologic basins. Little evaporation data is now available, hence the decision by the WRA to strengthen the MET Service.
The evaporation pans will obtain data from the same number of critical areas. They are to be installed in Trelawny, Clarendon, St. Ann, St. Andrew and St. Thomas.

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