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Droughts, drains and water pains

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dear Editor,

It has been one of the most brutal summers and rain has become a strong contender for “once upon a time…” stories. Broken water mains, desiccated dams, and neutered streams have been the horrors of this drought.

Every Tom and Jane has lambasted the inept officials for the lack of water and grumbled as they filled their buckets during the infinitesimal early morning reprieve from water lock-offs.

Of faintest hope is the visitation of rains this last quarter. Jamaica hopes, but Jamaica does not move.

The idea that water insecurity persists is leeched by the notion that reservoirs will be replenished by year-end drizzle and all will be well again — a juvenile perspective that will continue to keep Jamaicans physically and mentally parched. At the national level, the notion has breath; however, it begins to pant at the residential level where simple measures such as tanks, as cliché as day and night, make worlds of difference.

Still, now that there have been those few showers in the Corporate Area, what really is the need? It's not like drought conditions will return after the brief rainy season.

But the Government is not without blame.

During the intense drought of 2010 I was in fifth form and the rhetoric around combating drought and climate change had never been more visionary. Pity it was only being gawked by spineless chatterboxes afforded valuable TV time. Nine years on and nothing new.

Constantly phased by the floods that pursue the yearly droughts, we forget that there is serious water insecurity. The political squabble flips from monies to supply water trucks to monies spent on de-bushing programmes, because, God forbid we clean the drains during the drought! In the end, not one cent has been spent on investing in new systems.

Should Jamaica really tackle water insecurity the change must be radical and initially uncomfortable, costly even.

The repeated suggestion that an island should not go thirsty could never be more right. Desalination of seawater is our only real help. Of course, it's costly, and we do not generate the amount of energy to do so. Still, the economic cost of not doing so is even more crippling for Jamaica's future.

Water storage is now penultimate to water production. It is not impossible, nor is it the 50s, the technology exists, and should be exploited. Even if it means building a dedicated energy plant. I would say nuclear, but Jamaica still believes everything nuclear-powered countries who want us to buy their oil tell us.

Once a year we mumble our national anthem and ask that our leaders be given vision. We should specify long term, because we're about to perish. Our concerns and vision are as steadfast as wind. We are a nation of people only concerned about food when we are hungry.


Dave Richards,