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More water solutions coming for St Catherine

Jamaica Gleaner Article


FOR DECADES, the north-eastern section of St Catherine has struggled with persistent water crises. And despite the residents’ calls for help from various parliamentary representatives, the long-standing problem has remained largely unresolved.

Recent efforts have resulted in slight improvements, and on Thursday, there was promise for better through the rural resilience tank programme to come on stream in September.

A number of key stakeholders toured two water systems in the area and scrutinised existing infrastructure while highlighting work needed to provide service that better suits the residents’ thirst for water.

The group included Senator Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; St Catherine North Eastern Member of Parliament Kerensia Morrison; and representatives from Rural Water Supply Limited, the National Water Commission, and the St Catherine Municipal Corporation.

The first stop was in the community of Hamwalk, where $63 million was spent to complete the system in 2019, and another small river system in Pear Tree – that is costing $18 million – that uses solar power installed by the Rural Water Supply Limited.

“As small as these systems are, they benefited some 5,000 people, and what it shows is an integration of several government agencies working together in a collaborative effort to provide water to the residents,” Samuda told reporters. “But we also see very clearly the challenges that we face.

“It is no secret that the cost to the National Water Commission to provide water to Jamaican households is in excess of a billion dollars,” added Samuda, who noted that the cost was unsustainable.

Even though the cost to provide water to the area is significant, the minister said the Government must work with the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited while creating renewable-energy initiatives to reduce electricity costs so that more Jamaicans can benefit.

Based on his assessment, the minister also concluded that the area is being affected by hydrological drought.

As a result, he announced the Government’s intention to temporarily truck water to the affected communities, especially Riversdale.

“But what I will say is that this community will be one of the targeted communities to benefit from the Government’s rural resilience tank programme, which is expected to kick off next month,” Samuda disclosed.

He said this would see some 50,000 black tanks distributed and installed with appropriate rainwater harvesting infrastructure, which is expected to start over the next two years.

Samuda said Riversdale would receive a $150-million water supply upgrade in the upcoming fiscal year that would benefit around 5,000 people.

According to him, the engineering solutions and the source solution that will provide potable water regularly and in the volume that is required have been looked at, and against that background, he can make a commitment.

He attributed the challenge of a comprehensive solution to the water crisis in St Catherine Northeastern and Jamaica primarily to financial constraints. Nevertheless, he said the Government remained committed to providing potable water to every home as part of its strategic plan.


Pear Tree Grove Water Supply