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Jamaicans Urged to Conserve water as dry season approaches

Featured Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill. Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill.
As the country enters yet another dry period, citizens are being urged to begin implementing conservation strategies. Although the two reservoirs in St. Andrew (Mona and Hermitage) are at capacity, the National Water Commission (NWC) has begun instituting restrictions at nights, as a conservation strategy.

The NWC issued a release at the end of 2015, in which it pointed out that it was important that Corporate Area customers continue conservation practices during the dry period, which usually runs from December to April.

According to the NWC, during the period of restriction, some customers may not experience any disruption, while others will experience low water pressure or have no water between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

MIchael Barnett NWC 828President of the NWC, Michael Barnett, points out that the NWC is taking this step purely as a precautionary measure.

“It’s really a monitoring approach and being proactive in our effort to ensure that our supplies during the dry period are efficiently utilized. What we have been doing is to constantly assess our inflows into our reservoirs. However, once the rain ceases, the inflow will start to show a consistent decline in levels and for that reason, we are matching our inflows with what we produce,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Barnett adds that at nights, the pressure in the pipes increases and so the water is turned off to reduce leaks.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says with the NWC adopting these strategies from very early, it simply means water harvesting techniques and conservation strategies have to become a necessity for home owners.

This is not limited to urban residents, as sub-urban and rural residents are also affected by drought.

The Minister says the Government is fully behind efforts to conserve water, and highlights the need for residents to adopt and practise conservation strategies to   protect the country’s water safety.

“We have embraced rainwater harvesting as an integral part of our water security efforts, now and for the future. Under the Catchment Tank Rehabilitation and Rainwater Harvesting Programme, the Rural Water Supply Limited has refurbished 112 catchment tanks at a cost of over $100 million, since the start of the programme in 2012,” Mr. Pickersgill notes.

“These catchment tanks are benefitting some 35,000 people in several parishes.  For the 2014-2015 financial year alone, a total of $41 million was expended to rehabilitate 35 catchment tanks in Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, Clarendon and Westmoreland. I firmly believe that rainwater harvesting is the route that we must take, in order to ensure our water security, particularly in the face of climate change impacts, which will intensify drought conditions,” he adds.

For his part, General Manager for Engineering at Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL), Douglas Wilson, tells JIS News that despite the drought in 2015, more Jamaicans are benefiting from piped water to their homes as a result of the significant strides made in putting in place critical water systems.

Mr. Wilson points out that thousands of residents in parishes that were severely impacted by the long periods of inadequate supply are now happy with the supply, as a result of the work of the RWSL, an agency of the Ministry.

“The people are ecstatic and are very happy. We were able to make a significant impact in some of those drought stricken areas of St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Clarendon and other parishes,” he says.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barnett is encouraging citizens to begin practising conservation strategies.

“We definitely need to go back to the conservation measures that were practised during the drought period,” the NWC President urges.

These include watering gardens with used water; checking toilets for leaks; limiting the length of time the water is actually running when taking a shower; and using a hard broom to sweep driveways, sidewalks, gutters and steps, instead of washing them.

Householders are also urged not to let children play with taps, hoses and sprinklers; and to wash cars using a bucket of water and a rag, not a running hose.

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