Gov’t outlines major plans to improve water distribution locally Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

In citing the myriad of challenges affecting water supply locally, especially in rural areas, the Government is shortly to embark on a major overhaul of the water distribution network as part of several plans to improve access to the commodity.

This, said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Matthew Samuda, will fall under a national non-revenue water programme which is expected to significantly impact consumers, particularly those in rural communities.

“This (includes) changing the piping network, managing the pressure (by) ensuring that pumps are properly calibrated, and ensuring that you get the water in your pipes and you don’t see it leaking and running down the road,” he said.

The minister outlined the several major plans to boost the supply of water locally while speaking at the recent commissioning of the upgraded Sligoville water system in St Catherine.

According to Samuda, the National Water Commission (NWC) is slated to commence upgrading its pump systems island-wide in the upcoming financial year.

He elaborated that, “We will start the process of changing out about $900 million to $1 billion worth of pumps annually to remove the oldest most unreliable, electricity-intensive pumps from the system, to ensure that our (power) usage also goes down.

“So, as we move to renewables, to cut the cost and to ensure that we are using clean energy, we are also removing the (outdated systems).”

There have been complaints in recent time from residents that despite being served with water bills by the NWC, there has been little to no water running in their pipes, leading residents to find alternate means of getting access to the commodity.

On Tuesday of last week, some St Mary residents, though largely protesting about bad roads in several communities, also protested about the lack of water in their pipes, despite being legally connected to NWC’s systems.

In pointing to the distribution network being aged and prone to leaks, resulting in high non-revenue water loss, Samuda said the Government has partnered with global water utility company, Miya, on its project to reduce wastage.

Miya’s non-revenue water project, being implemented in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, aims to improve the overall efficiency of the NWC operations.

The project, said Samuda, has realised significant savings of the valuable commodity.

“The non-revenue water that is either stolen or leaks out from bad pipes… has (been) cut… by 50,000 cubic metres daily,” he indicated.

In noting that in 2016, non-revenue water was at approximately 70 per cent, Samuda said that in Kingston and St Andrew, this has been reduced to approximately 30 per cent.

It is anticipated that non-revenue water wastage will be reduced to approximately 30 per cent in St Catherine over the next 12 to 18 months, the minister stated.