Water Ministry and NWC Working to Improve Supply


The Ministry of Water and Housing and the National Water Commission (NWC) intend to improve the current supply situation, by increasing the percentage of taps in houses within urban centres from 90 to 98 per cent, and those in rural houses from 45 to 65 per cent.
At the same time, they are working to ensure the availability of potable water to rural households in other ways, including the of stand pipes.
Significant investments have taken place in new water supply and sewerage systems for urban and rural centres over the last 20 years. At first, the urban systems along the north coast were given priority in order to achieve the dual purpose of providing water and sewerage services to the major population areas, while at the same time facilitating investments in the growing tourism industry.
This has resulted in central sewerage systems being constructed in the major urban centres of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril. Most areas on the North coast now have fairly stable water systems. Those areas which do not, will receive attention in the near future, according to the Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
The Minister says the focus now is on the South Coast and other rural areas in order to achieve the same positive results which were achieved in other parts of the island. This focus will involve improvement of water supply systems in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), including Kingston and St. Andrew, Greater Spanish Town and South East St. Catherine, which will take in Portmore. This is an area which has a population of more than one million persons, which is 40 per cent of Jamaica’s population. It also contains many of the country’s largest and most important commercial and industrial facilities.
There is currently a supply shortfall of some 20 million gallons per day in the KMA during dry periods, which covers approximately half of the year, according to Minister Chang. The NWC has implemented several projects in order to address this shortfall. These include the KMA Water Supply and Rehabilitation Project, which is partly funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), the Kingston Water and Sanitation Project, partly financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Jamaica Water Supply Improvement Project.
The KMA Water Supply and Rehabilitation Project is focused primarily on improvement works in Greater Spanish Town and South East St. Catherine, to include the cleaning, resuscitation and/or re-drilling of 19 groundwater wells; upgrading of the Spanish Town water treatment plant; refurbishing of 11 storage tanks; replacement of 19 kilometres of leaking and encrusted distribution pipes. An estimated $1.5 billion will be spent on this project during the 2010/2011 financial year, according to Minister Chang.
In the meantime, the Kingston Water and Sanitation Project (KWSP) will address some of the water supply problems now being experienced in some areas of Kingston and St. Andrew. This project will involve the rehabilitation of two major water treatment plants, rehabilitation of pumping and water storage facilities, and the implementation of a non-revenue water reduction programme in major sections of Kingston and St. Andrew. The expected total expenditure, based on the project schedule and the engineer’s assessment, is US$5.6 million, including all initial expenses.
The KWSP will include the rehabilitation of 27 facilities and a comprehensive non-revenue water reduction programme, estimated to cost US$50 million.
The Jamaica Water Supply Improvement Project (JWSIP) was formulated to address the immediate shortfall in water supply in the KMA as well as to improve water supplies in selected rural areas.
This project, when completed, will provide an additional 20 million gallons of potable water to the KMA from a combination of new supply development and loss reduction. The great need for this project has been re-enforced by the recent drought conditions, which have been eased by some showers in May and June.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2012 and contains several components. These include the replacement of the old asbestos/cement Rio Cobre pipeline, which brings water from Bog Walk along the Gorge to the KMA, in order to reduce leaks and improve supply reliability to the KMA.
Also included in this thrust is the rehabilitation of the Constant Spring Water Treatment Plant and the intakes. This will provide water to the plant to restore production capacity and improve supply reliability. The rehabilitation of the Seaview Water Treatment Plant and the Stony Hill supply network will also be conducted in order to improve plant capacity and enhance the reliability of supply.
Other aspects of the work will include the construction of new wells at Halls Green to provide additional potable water; installation of approximately 70,000 customer meters in Ocho Rios and the KSA to more accurately determine consumption, reduce commercial losses and boost revenue; construction of a new pipeline from Ferry to Red Hills to improve supply to the Red Hills area; improvement to the Forest Hills supply network to replace old mains and reduce leakage; and the construction of a new 15 million gallons per day water treatment plant in Spanish Town to provide additional water to meet demand in the KMA.
A number of rural water supply projects will also be implemented in various parishes in an effort to increase rural supply coverage.
As a result of the already stated cap of funding from the traditional lenders who were involved in financing other projects with the NWC and the urgent need for project financing, additional funding was sourced via a competitive tendering exercise. BNP Paribas of France and Bank of Nova Scotia (Canada and Jamaica) submitted attractive financing proposals and loan agreements were executed with both banks for implementation of different sections of the project.
The selected contractor is Vinci Construction Gands Projets, which has a long track record of winning contracts and implementing projects on time and within budget in Jamaica. The contract is priced in Euros, United States dollars and Jamaican dollars, with a total value of US$211 Million. A critical criterion for the project is that it must have positive net cash flows and thus add to the viability of the NWC.
Based on the financial assessment of the project, this will be achieved and the expected increased revenues will facilitate repayment of the financing and result in a high net value to NWC, Minister Chang says.
The additional water provided as a result of the completion of this project will directly benefit the over 600,000 residents of Kingston and St. Andrew, and greatly improve the availability and reliability of service to the people living in the area. The project will also benefit six rural areas across the country, where water supply shortage has become critical.

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