$B Water Rescue

Rio Cobre treatment plant among initiatives outlined by PM

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of worsening drought conditions that have been affecting the Corporate Area and St Catherine in particular.

Among the new measures is the construction of a 15-million-gallon per day water treatment plant in the Rio Cobre, under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

He said that the National Water Commission (NWC) and a Cabinet-appointed enterprise team, along with a private sector consortium, have been mandated to complete all negotiations within 45 days. At the end, construction is expected to commence later this year for a period of 24 months.

The total cost to develop the project and construct the new water treatment plant is estimated at US$60 million, or J$7.77 billion.

However, the prime minister advised the House of representatives that the project is contingent on the divestment of the Central Wastewater Treatment Company, which owns the Soapberry Wastewater Treatment Plant.

He also promised a Spanish Town Road to North Street pipeline which will comprise connection to the 36-inch ductile iron that is now being constructed parallel to a section of Mandela Highway at Six Miles, in addition to 6.1 kilometres of 36-inch diameter ductile iron pipeline which will run along Spanish Town Road from Six Miles to the Waltham Park Road intersection; a four-kilometre 24-inches diameter pipeline from Waltham Park Road, which will run along Spanish Town Road and Beeston Street; and connection of the 24-inches pipeline to the existing two- inch pipeline at the intersection of North Street and Blake Road in Central Kingston.

Holness also listed an additional 2.3-kilometre, eight-inch diameter and 1.9-kilometre of six-inch diameter distribution pipelines which will be installed along Spanish Town Road, on either side of the dual carriageway.

He said that the estimated cost to construct a pipeline from Spanish Town Road to Glenmore Road is US$35 million, with a further US$25 million for secondary transmission and distribution mains improvements.

The NWC, added the prime minister, has been directed to make appropriate arrangements to give effect to the declaration of an emergency, to facilitate the earliest possible replacement of the existing pipelines along Spanish Town Road.

Holness's announcement comes as the NWC confirmed that its main water resources for the capital city — Mona Reservoir and Hermitage Dam — are down to 27.4 per cent and 33.1 per cent of their capacities, respectively, despite rain last weekend.

The prime minister said yesterday that under extreme drought conditions, as occurred in 2012 and 2013, this year's shortfall could even be greater, as when the situation is compared with last year at this time, both Mona Reservoir and Hermitage Dam were at full capacity of 809 million gallons and 400 million gallons, respectively.

“We have heard the cries of homeowners and business operators within the Corporate Area and sections of St Catherine, bemoaning the fact that they have not enjoyed a regular or sufficient supply of potable water to their pipes in recent weeks, and in some instances, months,” he stated, noting that his St Andrew West Central constituency is one of those which consistently suffers from lack of a reliable supply of potable water.

“We understand the great level of frustration and inconvenience this has caused in affected households and places of business, and we appreciate the patience and understanding being experienced by residents,” Holness told the House yesterday.

He said that major improvements are required immediately for the Kingston and St Andrew Water Supply System, and the total expenditure required is estimated at US$160 million.

These improvements are slated to improve water supply in areas such as Stanton Terrace to Marescaux Road; King's House to West King;s House Road/Constant Spring; Norman Manley Airport Road (by roundabout) to Port Royal; Seaview to Jack's Hill; Six Miles to North Street; Six Miles to Constant Spring Road; and the Content Water Treatment Plant at Rio Cobre.

The prime minister explained that the low outputs are a direct result of the low river flows from the Yallahs and Hope rivers into Mona Reservoir; low river flows from Morsham, Ginger, Wag Water and Bore rivers up to Hermitage Dam; and limited ability to transfer water from St Catherine due to the very fragile Rio Cobre transmission main that runs along Spanish Town Road.

He said that under the current water production conditions, only approximately 35 million gallons per day are available for distribution in Kingston and St Andrew, representing a shortfall of approximately 26 million gallons per day of installed capacity.

“The Government is seized of the impact of the current water situation on all aspects of the country's development, and is very aware that if immediate and urgent action is not taken, the shortfall is expected to worsen,” he said, noting that additional water production capacity has to be established.


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