Water problems affecting 35,000 Corporate Area residents

Friday, May 03, 2019

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THE National Water Commission (NWC) says approximately 35,000 customers are being impacted by the current water shortage across the Corporate Area.

The NWC has been the subject of countless complaints for the past several months, stemming from consistent water lock-offs in several communities for long periods.

Corporate public relations manager at the commission, Charles Buchanan, in a Jamaica Observer interview Wednesday, explained that more than a few challenges, including the constant breaking of pipes along major thoroughfares, are limiting the entity's ability to provide a steady service.

Buchanan also said the problems are being further fuelled by the drought-like conditions affecting the island.

“We are dealing with the water supply reliability issue through, for example, the NRW (non revenue water) reduction programme which we are doing in Kingston. This essentially says, of the water we have available, how can you effectively make more of it reach a paying customer and not be lost through underground leaks or be taken from the network by people who are not paying for it, and because they are not paying for it most of the time they are wasting it,” Buchanan told the Observer.

He said while there has been tremendous progress, even that cannot mitigate against the combination of problems that the NWC has.

He added that other areas of difficulty have overshadowed the success, noting that there have been two breaks each day on the entity's Constant Spring system, an unrepairable break for the last five months along the Mandela Highway, and frequent breaks at Hagley Park Road and Six Miles, where major road works are being carried out.

“We recognise that our customers are having severe issues. We know that somewhere in the region of 35,000 account holders of the commission are being affected by the severe frequent interruptions and low pressure,” he told the Observer.

At the same time, he cautioned against limiting the country's water challenges to low levels at the major reservoir and dam in Kingston, stating that where the two fall short, other systems are in place.

“The truth though is that the real problem is not so much the dams. Jamaicans persist in believing that that is a primary issue. I think despite statements from experts inside and outside of the NWC, that show that the real water challenge for us is not so much a question of the two reservoirs in Kingston and St Andrew.

“They are the two large raw water storage reservoirs or dams we have in the entire country but we have 650 different water supply systems. If the absence or presence of the dams in and of themselves were the determining factors about a water supply systems reliability, then it would mean that the other 400 and odd systems that don't have that would be constantly in crisis mode,” said Buchanan.

– Kimone Francis


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