Speaking at the recent signing ceremony for a non revenue water contract, the Prime Minister noted that the drought and the many recent bush fires have translated into major crop losses for scores of farmers.
She pointed out that "many Jamaicans, especially in the Corporate Area, are dealing with the inconvenience of reduced water supply as the National Water Commission (NWC) is forced to regulate the supply of the limited amount of the precious commodity that remains in the water storage facilities.
Prime Minister Simpson-Miller outlined some of the measures being pursued by the Government to address the situation. The following is the full text of her speech on the efforts being made to cope with the ongoing drought situation:
Ø The Government has invested One Billion Jamaican Dollars ($J1 Billion) in a Re-charge Project, which will ensure the continuous extraction of water from the South St Catherine Limestone source.
o This project is underway and should be completed by the end of this year.
Ø We are investing One Point Six Billion Jamaican Dollars ($J1.6 Billion) to expand the Martha Brae Water Treatment Plant to increase water supply to the parishes of Trelawny, St. James and Westmoreland.
Ø There is a Three Billion Jamaican Dollar investment underway for Segment 2 of the Rio Cobre pipeline to benefit most areas in St. Catherine and the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
Ø There is the Lucea transmission pipeline project which is increasing water supply to communities in Hanover and Westmoreland involving an investment of One Billion Jamaican Dollars ($1 billion).
Ø We are spending another Five Hundred and Sixty Million Jamaican Dollars (J$560 million) to refurbish the Bogue Water Treatment Plant to increase supply to North East St. Ann, Western and Central St. Mary.
Ø An effort is also underway to bring more wells into operation and increase the treatment of water from wells for distribution.
Ø So far this year the NWC has invested more than One Hundred Million Jamaican Dollars in trucking water to people in affected communities across the country.
Ø The Ministry has been working to put more Rapid Response water trucks into operation.
Ø For the long term, we are reviewing the country’s water supply plans. Some options include the possibility of damming of the Rio Cobre to provide an additional 50 million gallons per day to the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St. Catherine.
Ø In addition, the NWC and the Water Resources Authority, will be exploring the feasibility of distributing water from the North Western Parishes of Trelawny St. Ann, to areas of need in the southern and eastern sections of the island.
Ø The government is also fully embracing rainwater harvesting as a major part of our water security efforts, now and for the future.
Ø Already some 112 catchment tanks in several parishes have been refurbished at a cost of more than J$100 million over the past three years.
Today, we are starting to improve the supply of water to our people. As Minister Pickersgill pointed out earlier, this involves Non-Revenue Water – water that is collected, treated and supplied, but is either wasted or stolen and therefore, earns no revenue for the NWC or the Government.
In the Corporate Area, some 108 Million Liters per day, or fifty three per cent — more than half — of all the water that the NWC produces, is either wasted as a result of leaks, or taken.
This situation cannot continue.
The contract being signed today between the NWC and the Israeli-based company, Miya, is for the provision of services that will reduce the amount on Non-Revenue Water.
This will in turn, increase the operational efficiencies of the NWC and ensure that more of the water produced by the NWC will be available to be supplied to customers.
The NWC produces some 60 Billion gallons of water per year through a network of 460 water supply systems, and 10,000 kilometers of pipelines to over 70% of all Jamaican households directly, and a further 10% indirectly.
Losses along its network, has been a vexed issue for both the NWC and its customers many years.
More than 60% of the existing water and wastewater infrastructure used by the NWC have exceeded their useful engineering or economic life.
This has contributed to the high level of Non-Revenue Water which is unacceptable.
Through an on-going capital project the NWC has been replacing old, aging and leaking pipes.
Especially in this period of severe drought, we cannot afford to lose one drop of water, and that is why I am pleased to be witnessing the start of this project at a cost of US 42.5 Million Dollars or $4.9 Billion Jamaican Dollars.
It is both opportune and welcome.
Under this project, the NWC will utilize the experience of a Non- Revenue Water reduction specialist, Miya, in a co-management approach to achieve significant reduction in water loss.
I am pleased to note that Miya has wide ranging global expertise in this area.
Under this five year project supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, Miya will implement strategies and action to enable the NWC to improve its performance and maximize the collection of income for the water it produces.
Miya will conduct an audit of the network to determine the precise situation with regard to Non- Revenue Water, and how best to reduce these figures to 37 percent within 2 years, 30 percent within three years, and 20 percent in the fifth year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I note with interest that the project is performance-based, so US 4.5 Million Dollars will be paid to the consultant as performance based fees if the targets are met within the stated period.
It is said incentives are what get people to work harder.
I urge everyone involved with this project to work not only harder, but smarter in the interest of the people of Jamaica.
The economic benefit to the NWC from the reduction of Non-Revenue Water, is estimated to be about US 250 Million Jamaica Dollars, or just over 29.2 Billion Jamaican Dollars in the first five years after the start of the project.
Importantly, it will improve the efficiency and reliability of supply to over 650,000 residential and commercial customers.
Ladies and gentlemen, this project is a win-win for everybody.
Potable water and wastewater services are critical to the progress and development of our country, and are effective indicators of the quality of life of our people.
It is often said that: “Clean Water is not an expenditure of government funds; clean water is an investment in the future of our country.”
I want to thank the consultants – Miya, the Inter-American Development Bank, the National Water Commission and all stakeholders involved in this project.
Together we are tackling one of the major challenges to the reliable supply of clean water to the people of Jamaica.
This is a step in the right direction and we will keep stepping in this direction, moving the country forward and improving the lives of our people.
As the late actress Audrey Hepburn said: “Water is life, and clean water means health.”
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