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JIS – Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the Government will be expanding and improving waste-water resources in the new financial year.
The objective, he said, is to safeguard water sources, guard public health, preserve the country’s fragile ecosystems and protect economic investments.
Dr. Chang’s remarks came in a speech read by Mayor of Montego Bay, Homer Davis, at a World Water Day event at the Iberostar Resort, St. James, on March 22.
He noted that, already, the National Water Commission (NWC) is spending $1.5 billion to undertake waste-water improvement projects in Boscobel, Elletson Flats, Bay Farm Villas and several other locations islandwide.
“We are in the process of correcting our sewage-treatment systems throughout the island through partnerships with multilateral agencies and the private sector, utilising innovative financing approaches to expand our existing sewer network by constructing new plants and rehabilitating many others,” Dr. Chang said.
He informed that the Soapberry treatment plant in St. Catherine will be expanded and the sewage treated to a satisfactory level and reused as waste-water resources suitable for irrigation.
Dr. Chang, in his World Water Day speech, said the Government, through the NWC and Rural Water Supply Limited, intends to extend water supply to more areas, in order to ensure that “consumers are drought resilient and not subjected to water lock-offs.”
“Additionally, we intend to reduce non-revenue water from 70 per cent to 55 per cent by 2021,” he indicated.
Dr. Chang noted that Jamaica is blessed with good-quality water resources, and the commodity is rigorously treated before distribution is carried out.
He said that more than 663 million persons throughout the world have to travel far distances to access potable water even though approximately 1.5 billion work in water-related sectors.
The United Nations, he said, has indicated that the use of water has grown by more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. The international organisation estimates that by 2025, approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide will live in areas where water is scarce, with an additional two-thirds of the world’s population occupying what is termed “water stressed” regions.
Pollution and the impacts of climate change, Dr. Chang said, are likely to place additional stress on the world’s water resources as the worldwide demand for water continues to increase.
“As we commemorate World Water Day this year, I urge you all to reduce your water use by conserving whenever you can. Replenish and protect our watersheds by replanting our trees and forests, and recycle waste-water around the home,” he urged.
“As we work to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, we ask that you partner with us to address the challenges that may arise in the provision of water and wastewater services and in ensuring the sustainability of our water resources, which will produce tangible benefits for all of us,” he added.