JIS News

The Water Resources Authority (WRA) is expected to implement some eight projects, costing over $24 million, during the current fiscal year, Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has said.
Making his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 1), Dr. Chang informed that three of these are Capital B projects, which will be undertaken through an allotment of $10.8 million from the budget, with counterpart funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); European Union (EU); and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The three Capital B projects are the Caribbean Hydrological Cycle Observation System Project; Water Programme for Environmental Sustainability; and the Caribbean Water Initiative Project.
Dr. Chang explained that the Hydrological Cycle Observation System Project, which will cost some $9.5 million, and aims to upgrade six gauging stations over a three-year period, will facilitate real-time reporting on factors related to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, and will involve monitoring of the Rio Cobre in the Bog Walk Gorge in St. Catherine.
“When we see floods coming on, we (will be able to) inform the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in real-time, because that (system) would be in place with computer-generated information, (enabling) the WRA (to) stay in its lab and monitor what is happening in these river basins,” he outlined.
Some $6.3 million will be spent to implement the Water Programme for Environment Sustainability this year, which, the Minister explained, will seek to increase the WRA’s capacity to model the impacts of climate change on water resources.
The Caribbean Water Initiative Project, which will be implemented over a three-year period at a cost of $8.9 million, aims to build capacity in Integrated Water Resources Management.
“The project will facilitate the construction of Hydromet stations in the St. Mary area, and will help to build capacity among stakeholders to manage their own water supplies. These projects are small, but critical to the management of our water resources, our monitoring of the environment, and the potential to lay the foundation for mitigation activity in the face of climate change,” the Water Minister stated.
Continuing, Dr. Chang said the other five projects are also designed to enhance the WRA’s capacity, one of which is a Development Approval Process Mapping, noting that the agency has developed a Development Tools project.
“This will result in the production of an automated system of maps (which is) very important to the local government authorities, and the guidelines to allow for timely decision making in relation to the approval of low cost, but environmentally safe, on site sewage systems. These tools will be made available to all the Parish Councils to enhance their capabilities in the approval process, and in protecting our water resources,” the Minister explained.
There is also an initiative to increase sustainable water supplies and storage, to meet demand during drought periods, and assess the potential for rainwater harvesting, which will build on work done by the Texas Rainwater Harvesting Group, and the International Rainwater Harvesting Organisation.

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