"Brace for further water shortages" - NWC President

Residents of the Corporate Area should brace for further water shortages as the National Water Commission (NWC), says the decline in storage levels at the Corporate Area has reached crisis level and is likely to get worse. 

NWC President Mark Barnett has indicated that if there is no increase in rainfall before the end of this month, there will be increased water restrictions

Speaking Wednesday night on TVJ's All Angles, Mr Barnett said the outlook is dismal.

“Where we now in the month of May, hopefully in the latter weeks we will see some rainfall heading into June. That will be our second rainy period…. If that is not the case, then the situation will get worse," he declared. 

According to Mr Barnett, the country is in a crisis situation - one that could get worse if there are longer periods without water. 

Last week, the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology warned that worsening drought conditions could impact agriculture groundwater, large reservoirs and rivers in Jamaica as well as other countries in the region.

The institute urged Caribbean countries to closely monitor water resources and try to conserve as much as possible, at least until July.

It said a weak El Nino is expected to contribute to reduced rainfall.

As the NWC looks at option to alleviate the water crisis in the Corporate Area, it said it would not be feasible at this time to desilt the Hermitage Dam. 

Mr Barnett also confirmed that the NWC has lost millions of gallons of water due to the multiple road work projects taking place in the Corporate Area. He added that the NWC has started the process to seek compensation for this loss.

No desalination 
Faced with intensifying calls for more options to be explored in addressing the country's worsening water woes, Mr Barnett has shut down the proposal of desalination.
The NWC President argued that desalination - which is the removal of salt from sea water - is too expensive and will increase the cost of water for Jamaicans.
Desalination is one of several ideas being floated by members of the public as the Corporate Area's water shortage becomes critical.
It is felt that this should be one of several measures used jointly to ensure that the annual problem of drought does not have such a significant impact.
However, Mr Barnett asserted that this option has been explored, and it was determined that the technology for desalination requires tremendous amounts of energy which will drive up the price of water. 
"We currently under the present conventional river sources produce water just about $2.07 per cubic metre. The question, therefore, if so much residents have a challenge now paying their existing water bill,  can we afford desalination with our continued high energy cost?" he put forward. 
Mr Barnett has suggested that the current approach could be cheaper if Jamaica harnesses the fresh water resources and moves them to areas where there are population centres to help to contain the cost and make water more affordable to all citizens. 
Opposition Spokesman on Water Ian Hayles wants the government to use technology to address the chronic water shortage in the Corporate Area.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday announced plans to increase storage capacity at the Hermitage Dam.
While applauding the effort, Mr Hayles provided alternatives to increase the supply of water in the Corporate Area. He said, for example, the Prime Minister's plan of digging new wells in Kingston could be avoided if technology is used to improve the water within the wells already existing in the Corporate Area. 
"Number two is, if you use the wastewater in terms of treated water from CWTC and take off the NIC national irrigation water out of the Rio Cobre where you don't get that water anymore for irrigation, then Kingston will have as much water coming from the Rio Cobre," he reasoned. 


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