Water Resources Authority to Assume Responsibility for Flood Control


The Water Resources Authority (WRA) is to assume full responsibility for flood water control across the island as part of a move by the government to streamline activities in this area.
This was disclosed by Deputy Managing Director of the WRA, Herbert Thomas in an interview with JIS News. Mr. Thomas said regulations are to be developed that will support amendments to the Water Resources Act, thereby guiding and enhancing the activities of the Authority.
Streamlining responsibility for flood water control is intended to eliminate duplications in the execution of attendant activities by the nine agencies currently involved in this process including the National Works Agency, National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA), Forestry Department, Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the WRA.
Mr. Thomas said studies conducted revealed an overlapping of activities undertaken by the agencies, which has proved challenging.
“What has been happening is that there seems to be a lack of coordination with nobody having any lead role into exactly what ought to be done,” he explained, adding that arising out of a Water Sector Policy developed by the government, a decision was taken to give the WRA the mandate for flood water control.
“The (Water Resources) Act has been amended by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and it spells out that we will be responsible for making recommendations to the Minister (of Water & Housing) for the declaration of flood water control zones. We will have to develop plans for flood water mitigation in these areas, and it will be the duty of the NWA to implement the attendant activities,” Mr. Thomas explained.
The WRA executive pointed out that the regulations that will guide flood mitigation activities such as zoning, which are required for final amendment to the Water Resources Act, have not been completed. He added, however, that the agency, in tandem with the Ministry of Water and Housing will be coordinating a series of consultations with various stakeholders to secure their input to this end.
“In a short while, the Ministry and the WRA will be trying to solicit the support of all the stakeholders, agencies and civil society, in helping us to frame this regulation. Once this has been done and it is, more or less, accepted by Jamaicans on a whole, then this will be the basis for finalizing the Act,” Mr. Thomas outlined.
This, he added, will pave the way for the Minister of Water & Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, to table the document in Parliament for passage into law.

JIS Social