News

Rural Water Supply building communities

By O RODGER HUTCHINSON

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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The Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL), an agency of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, has been making a significant impact on the lives of rural Jamaicans by providing them with access to potable water.

Managing Director of the company, Audley Thompson, in noting the invaluable work done by the company over its 30-year history, has said that the agency is contributing to national progress.

He told JIS News that he has seen communities develop significantly after becoming recipients of a potable water system

"If you name any parish in the island, I can name a water supply system that we have done there, so we're a major part of national development," he said.

"Once there's water, there's development and it aids in the improvement of the standard of living of community members," he added.

Giving a brief history of the company, Thompson said that RWSL was established as the Carib Engineering Corporation Limited (CECL) in April 1983.

CECL was set up to implement the Yallahs Pipeline Project that was meant to be the first phase of the Blue Mountain Water Supply Programme.

"We started in the mid-80s when Kingston and St Andrew had a major water supply problem and we took water through the hills and valleys of St Thomas into Kingston, under the Yallahs Water Supply project," Thompson said.

The company's role was expanded to include responsibility for islandwide supply schemes, and eventually the name was changed to RWSL.

Its objectives are to improve the basic sanitary/health conditions by increasing access to potable water and sanitation services in poor rural areas.

He said that "in the latter part of the eighties we had to do a major project for Montego Bay through a loan from the Japanese. On the border of Hanover and St James, we built a dam and a treatment plant and so now the whole of Montego Bay can get water from that 10-gallon plant."

Highlighting other major projects, Thompson said that RWSL is responsible for developing the Lucea/Negril water supply system in 2000.

"Eastern Westmoreland and places like Darliston and others in the hills, which never had any water, we brought it to them," he stated.

Only recently, the $60 million Mile Gully/Warwick Castle water supply system was commissioned into service by Water Minister, Robert Pickersgill, to benefit over 1,200 residents of communities in St Mary.

The scope of work included the installation of two pumping stations, eight 2,750-gallon storage tanks, pipelines, and nine solar panels to power the operations, all of this to be managed and operated by the National Water Commission (NWC).

The project was carried out through the US$9.5 million Rural Water Programme, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under its Technical Cooperation Programme.

The Mile Gully/Warwick Castle system is one of five such water supply projects developed under an initial pilot, which began in 2003.

Other projects undertaken include Cotterwood in St Elizabeth; Whitehorses/Botany Bay in St Thomas; Gravel Hill in Clarendon; and Gibraltar in St Catherine.

The RWSL is currently undertaking the Burnt Savannah/Knoxwood Water Supply Mains Replacement and Upgrading Project, at a cost of $59.6 million.

It will benefit 3,000 residents in North East and South West St Elizabeth including Knoxwood, Orange Grove, Exeter, Building Lane, lower and upper Burnt Savannah, Lacovia and Holland.

- JIS

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