JIS News

The Water Resources Authority (WRA), in recognition of its 10th anniversary, will be hosting an exposition at its Old Hope Road head office in Kingston from November 15 to 16 under the theme: ‘Integrated Water Resources Management, Driving National Development’.
Senior Environmental Officer at the WRA, Michelle Watts, told JIS News that the exhibition was designed to educate members of the public and students in particular, about the importance of managing Jamaica’s natural water resources. She also noted that participating agencies would be showcasing their various roles as they relate to the management of water resources.
Stating that more than 70 per cent of the island’s water resources were underground, Mrs. Watts said it was crucial that persons became aware of how they could help to protect the precious commodity, especially from pollution. “Most of us are familiar with water supply in terms of the piping of water to our homes and that is usually our focus, but we want the public to be aware…that there is more behind the piped water and it has to do with managing the water in its natural state as it flows through our rivers and underground, and if we don’t protect those resources, we will have nothing to put in our pipes,” she pointed out. One of the key attractions of the exposition, Mrs. Watts told JIS News, would be the establishment of a ‘river model’ which would provide information about the management of water.
“On that river model we [WRA] will demonstrate how we monitor our water, how we calculate how much water flows in our rivers, how much water is underground, how we sample ground water and evaluate the quality of it, and you will also see examples of the types of equipment that we use to do this type of monitoring,” she informed.
The exposition will get underway at 9:00 a.m. on both days. Participating agencies comprise the National Water Commission, National Irrigation Commission, Rural Water Company, Environmental Health Unit, National Environment and Planning Agency, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and Meteorological Services.
The WRA is the state agency responsible for regulating Jamaica’s fresh underground and surface water resources. The organization was previously known as the Underground Water Resources Authority, but broadened its scope of responsibility to include the regulation of surface water after it was renamed in 1996.
The Authority has sole responsibility for issuing licences to agencies or other bodies, which are in the business of sourcing and distributing water. “The Water Resources Authority regulates the allocation of water through a licensing system, so anyone who needs to use water from a river or take it from underground, must apply to the Water Resources Authority for a licence, particularly if it is for commercial purposes,” Mrs. Watts indicated.
“In that way,” she explained, “we can give an account of how much water is being used, and also, how much water is available for use in the future.so we regulate the water resources through the licensing system, which tells persons how much water they can take from a specific source.”
Operators, who fail to apply for licences, she noted, could face penalties under the Water Resources Act, which was passed in 1995. She noted that to date, the Authority has not charged any operator for such breaches.