Latest News

Billion-Dollar Water System In St Catherine


The Government is examining the feasibility of replicating the underground water recharge system to Manchester and St. Elizabeth, in similar fashion to the system at Innswood, St. Catherine.

Making the disclosure following a tour of the system in St. Catherine, yesterday, Wednesday (March 16), Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the two parishes account for a “significant portion” of foods produced across the island, and water is critical for production.

“Water is critical, and forms part of the government agenda… and St. Catherine possesses the capacity to provide water,” the Minister said.

The St. Catherine facility is situated on 68 acres of land located at Innswood, and its main function is to divert approximately five million gallons of water per day from the Rio Cobre River through the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) Canal during the wet season.

After the water is extracted from the canal, it is settled and injected into limestone wells to recharge the limestone aquifer, and to replenish the abstractions from wells into the Portmore/Bernard Lodge area.

The system was built at a cost of $1.1 billion with financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is operated by the Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL). Mr. McKenzie said he had an “eye opener” that Jamaica can generate the water that is needed, but it must be done in a structured manner.

He further said the ministry’s technical team will be engaged to see “how best” the system can be expanded, and that he will use his upcoming Sectoral Budget Debate in April to outline the “join up” approach that the Government is taking to expand water systems across the island.

“It is a commitment that we made in 2016 and have been fulfilling, and we will continue to fulfil, because if you want to grow and stimulate employment, then water has to be a driving force,” the Minister said.