Essex Primary Gets $3-Million Rainwater Harvesting System

Jamaica News: Principal of Essex Hall Primary School, Maxine Lewis, is grateful for the new rainwater harvesting system at the institution, which was constructed by Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL) at a cost of approximately $3 million.

She tells JIS News that the system, installed before the start of the new academic year in September, has ensured reliable access to safe water for the proper running of the school. It includes a 10,000-gallon storage tank, gutters and pipelines.

“I am very elated about this water project – overjoyed. I don’t even have words to describe how I feel. Now there is water in the pipes in the bathrooms. We had to use buckets to flush the toilets, but this (rainwater system) has made a difference in the children’s lives and in teaching them how to practise proper hygiene by flushing toilets and washing their hands,” she says.

Mrs. Lewis tells JIS News that the school, located in the hills of West Rural St. Andrew, had faced a water shortage for many years, as it does not have access to piped water.

Previously, seven water tanks, three of which were provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), were the only source of water for the small school population.

These tanks had to be filled regularly by the National Water Commission (NWC) and other providers, but Mrs. Lewis notes that often, the trucks were not able to deliver the commodity on time and the school would be without water for days.

She tells JIS News that since the installation of the rainwater system there has been no need to call the NWC or water truck operators, given that the system has enough water stored to supply the entire school.

“Lunch is now being cooked and served to the students on time,” she says, noting that for many of them the school lunch is their only substantial meal for the day.

Mrs. Lewis notes, further, that the enrolment has increased, now that there is water running through the pipes on a regular basis. She says that students are being taught how to conserve the water.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, under which the RWSL falls, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., who officially handed over the system to the school last week, notes the impact of the project in transforming the school community.

“The rainwater harvesting system at the school now catches and stores 10,000 gallons of rainwater, which is used by student, teachers, janitors, administrative staff members and others,” he says.

Minister Charles Jr. says the Government is committed to ensuring that schools have access to a reliable water supply through the rainwater harvesting programme.

The initiative targets institutions that do not have access to piped water from the NWC.

Minister Charles Jr. says it is through helping schools – a major agent of socialisation – that families in need can be assisted in the long run.

“When we fix the schools, we also fix the communities,” he says.

Managing Director, RWSL, Audley Thompson, tells JIS News that approximately 40 schools across the island have benefited from the rainwater harvesting programme, which started in 2011.

“This is benefiting in excess of 19,000 students and staff,” he says, noting that the first two systems were installed at schools in rural St. James.

He says that projects are under way in 14 institutions across the island, which should be completed by January 2020.


Source: JIS News

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