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Message from Dr. Horace Chang- World Water Day-2017

Each year, the celebration of World Water Day places focus on the critical importance of this most precious resource to every human being on earth.  This year, the United Nations theme is “Wastewater” with a supporting campaign slogan from the World Health Organisation (WHO) – “Why Waste Water?” – focussing on both water and wastewater. This highlights one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on improving water quality and reducing, treating and reusing wastewater.  Indeed, the provision of both services is a critical part of the thrust towards sustainable development.
It is reported that over 663 million persons throughout the world have to travel far distances to access potable, water even though approximately 1.5 billion work in water related sectors.
According to the United Nations, the use of water has grown by more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century.  In addition, it is estimated that by 2025, approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide will live in areas where water is scarce, with an additional  two thirds of the world’s population occupying  what is termed “water stressed” regions.
Pollution and the impacts of climate change are likely to place additional stress on the world’s water resources as the worldwide demand for water continues to increase.
Here in Jamaica, we too are threatened by the impacts of climate change, population growth and the improper disposal of wastes. However, we are blessed with good quality water resources and our water is rigorously treated before distribution.
The Government’s primary objective is to ensure that our consumers are drought resilient and not subjected to water lock offs. Therefore, through the National Water Commission (NWC) and the Rural Water Supply Limited we will extend our water supply services to more areas.  Additionally, we intend to reduce non-revenue water from 70% to 55% by 2021.
While this administration seeks to extend water supply services to more areas, we are also giving due attention to expanding and improving wastewater services and facilities, to protect water sources, guard public health, preserve our fragile eco-systems and protect economic investments.  
We are therefore in the process of correcting our sewage treatment systems throughout the island through partnerships with multi-lateral agencies and the private sector, – utilizing innovative financing approaches to expand our existing sewer network, by constructing new plants and rehabilitating many others.
The Soapberry Treatment Plant will be expanded and the sewage treated to a satisfactory level and reused as wastewater suitable for irrigation. The NWC is now spending J$1.5 B to undertake wastewater improvement projects in Boscobel, Elletson Flats, Bay Farm Villas and several other locations islandwide. Still more will be spent on wastewater improvements in the new financial year.
As we commemorate World Water Day this year, I urge you all to reduce your water use by conserving whenever you can.
Replenish and protect our watersheds by replanting our trees and forests and recycle wastewater around the home.
As we work to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, we ask that you partner with us to address the challenges that may arise in the provision of water and wastewater services and in ensuring the sustainability of our water resources which will produce tangible benefits for all of us.