News

Rapid Response to come back on stream

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 13, 2014    

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CEDAR VALLEY, Westmoreland — As the nation braces for a three-month period of drought, Water, Land and Climate Change Minister Robert 'Bobby' Pickersgill has announced Government's plans to revive the now defunct Rapid Response Unit.

"They (the Meteorological Office) are now predicting that we are entering into a three-month period of drought and that the most affected area will be in the western end of the island and we are trying to work out something in terms of resuscitating the Rapid Response team," Pickersgill noted.

The Rapid Response Unit was an emergency facility to provide water on a temporary basis to communities affected by water supply problems, severe drought and other natural disasters. It was created in 1999 but was disbanded a decade later, in 2009 as a result of what the Government of the day said was its inability to maintain the service.

In tandem with reviving the Rapid Response, Pickersgill maintained that in 2014 his ministry will renew its efforts and commitment towards expanding and improving the potable water supply network throughout the island.

"We remain unswerving in our efforts to achieve universal coverage for potable water by the year 2030," he said.

He was on Friday addressing a groundbreaking and contract signing for two water supply upgrading projects in eastern Westmoreland, which have a combined value of approximately $80 million.

The two projects will benefit approximately 12,000 people who live in Bethel Town and surrounding areas as well as another 1,000 or so in Cedar Valley and its environs.

The Bethel Town project, which is estimated to cost nearly $38 million, will impact people who currently rely on outflows from the Cambridge Treatment Plant via a network of undersized pipes that are in excess of 35 years old.

Upon completion of the project over the next four months, the upgraded system is expected to bring an end to irregular water supply experienced in the area.

The Cedar Valley project, meanwhile, will replace the current dilapidated and inadequate pipe infrastructure which feeds water from a rainwater catchment facility. Among the proposals are:

* to make a connection to the existing 100mm PVC pipeline at Stonedge; and

* to lay a new 100mm PVC pipeline in the community via the districts of Leamington, New Roads and Johnson over a distance of 4.6km.

"Potable water will flow from this pipeline and a network of 50mm PVC pipes which will be laid into lanes and tracks to satisfy peak demand. The estimated cost of this section of the project is $42.79m; these works replace the infrastructure now in existence," Pickersgill explained.

The Rural Water Supply Limited will be the supervising agency of the projects to be undertaken by contractors DR Foote Construction Company Limited and Bacchus Engineering Works Limited, respectively.

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