Climate change provisions for updated National Water Plan

Climate change provisions for updated National Water Plan

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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AS Jamaicans continue to witness the adverse effects of climate change, the Water Resources Authority (WRA) has assured that the updated National Water Plan will consider the current impact of climate change on the nation's water resources.

“We would like to report that in regard to the master plan study that is being done, we are taking into consideration the effects of climate change, because for us it is a clear and present danger,” managing director of the Water Resources Authority, Peter Clarke, tells JIS News.

The National Water Master Plan is a document compiled by the Water Resources Authority, which makes projections and recommendations for the usage and allocation of the nation's natural freshwater resources. The document is amended each decade after a series of environmental studies is conducted by the WRA, in collaboration with other scientific entities.

“The projection for climate change are hotter, wetter and drier days, so if we are having hotter periods, that could mean that the rate of evapotranspiration would be greater and that will impact the amount of surface and groundwater that is available for domestic and commercial use,” acting senior public education officer at WRA, Roshelle Archer James, explains.

Climate change occurs when changes in the earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades. These new patterns are often unfavourable, due to the effects of pollution and global warming.

A recent report from the Inter-America Development Bank (IDB) states that Latin America and the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. By 2050, rising sea levels, temperature increases and changes in rainfall patterns will result in an estimated annual cost of around two to four per cent of the region's GDP (gross domestic product).

Bearing this in mind, the WRA emphasises that it is imperative to plan for climate change when planning for sustainable development.

“We have been collaborating with expert groups such 'Climate Studies Group Mona', to allow for special consideration of the global phenomenon in our planning. 'Climate Studies Group Mona' has done extensive studies on the projection of rainfall and heat in the sea and this will give us a reasonably good idea on the future impact of evapotranspiration,” Clarke says.

In the meantime, Archer James points out that planning for climate change requires extensive yet detailed analysis, which must be applied to the Jamaican context for practicability.

“The master plan is an essential developmental and planning tool, because it pulls together information which helps us to know what will be demanded of our water resources for a future period and matches it against what is projected to be available,” Clarke adds.

Currently, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation is in the process of updating the nation's Climate Change Policy Framework. The framework outlines the tactics the Government will employ to effectively respond to the effects and challenges of climate change, through actions that are appropriate for varying scales and magnitudes of climate change on the country's resources.

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