Since the Government came into office on January 5, the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change has been focusing on improving water and sewerage systems; and highlighting the impact of climate change, and the need to protect the environment.
Ground was broken on February 23, for the construction of the Darling Street Wastewater Pumping Station, which will improve the sewerage system serving sections of downtown Kingston and St. Andrew.
The facility, which is scheduled for completion within 18 months, will cost $500 million and is expected to significantly enhance sewage collection in sections of the nation’s capital.
On completion, flows from the facility will connect to the station at Greenwich and transferred to the Soapberry Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Catherine. It is designed to meet the population demands up to the year 2030.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who spoke at the event, said the facility is expected to solve many of the sewage problems in downtown Kingston.
He emphasised that the proper collection and treatment of sewage has several environmental benefits, including the protection of groundwater.
The Minister also broke ground for the rehabilitation of the Mona and Hope Treatment Plants on March 8. The project, estimated to cost $1.5 billion, is expected to last for 18 months and is being implemented by the National Water Commission (NWC) with financial assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Meanwhile, the capacity of the NWC to provide efficient service to Jamaicans has been boosted, through a $128.7 million (US$1.48 million) grant from the IDB.
Mr. Pickersgill signed the grant agreement on March 28 at his Dominica Drive office in Kingston.
Of the total allocation, US$1.18 million will go towards strengthening the institutional capability of the NWC, through the improvement of management practices, planning and project implementation to ensure achievement of the objectives of the Kingston Metropolitan Area Water Supply Improvement Project (KMA). It will also finance contracting and consulting activities for the project, including the procurement of goods.
Also to be undertaken is design work for a Rural Water Supply Development Strategy and Action Plan (RWDS) and a review/update of the Ministry’s Water Sector Policy, at a cost of US$300,000.
The Living Oceans Foundation will shortly begin coral reef surveys off the Pedro Banks of the island’s South coast. The primary scientific goals of the expedition are to characterise the coral reef ecosystems; identify their current status and major threats; and examine factors that enhance their resistance to, and recovery from major disturbance events.
Welcoming the intervention at a media briefing on March 9, Mr. Pickersgill said the expedition not only seeks to expand the wealth of data on coral reef research, but helps to build the capacity of participating countries.
“Local scientists are afforded the opportunity to work alongside the team and experience hands-on training with the use of the latest technologies, assist in data collection, and receive first hand access to the data generated,” he observed.
For Jamaica, the local team will include representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Centre for Marine Sciences of the University of the West Indies, and the Nature Conservancy.
In terms of forestry, the Local Forest Management Committees (LFMC) was officially launched in the rural St. Andrew communities of Dallas Castle and Constitutional Hill, on January 26.
The LFMC is the institutional body created to enable the participation of communities in the co-management of forested areas, specifically those managed by the Forestry Department.
The committees fall under the European Union (EU)-funded €4.13 million Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Reduction Project, which comes under the Global Climate Change Alliance in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The project is managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and is being implemented by the Forestry Department, NEPA, Environmental Management Division of the Ministry and the Meteorological Service.