Water woes in St Bess

…as drought worsens St Elizabeth suffers, plus water trucks break down

Monday, July 16, 2018

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BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — As if the current severe drought wasn't bad enough, the two water trucks owned by the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation have broken down, forcing the contracting of private operators to deliver water.

Mayor of Black River and chairman of the municipal corporation Derrick Sangster told Jamaica Observer Central late Friday that the corporation has been trying “as best as possible” to meet people's water needs by using private truckers.

A large percentage of St Elizabeth's population gets no service from Jamaica's primary water server, National Water Commission (NWC), which means many people are forced to rely on domestic rainwater storage systems as well as trucked water.

Sangster said as the drought worsens, the municipal corporation was awaiting promised allocations from the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to allow greater capacity to deliver water.

“At present, we are just trying our best to deal with the situation,” Sangster said.

The Black River mayor said that while all of St Elizabeth was being negatively affected by the extended dry spell since late May, the northern side of the parish was “a little better off” because they were getting the odd shower.

“As usual in St Elizabeth it is the southern belt which is in most need of water,” he said.

Sangster said the most severely affected areas extended from Fullerswood in the south-western sections of St Elizabeth to areas in the south-east close to the southern Manchester border.

Earlier this month Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western Floyd Green called on the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Economic Growth to “jointly roll out a drought intervention programme for St Elizabeth”.

Green said in a news release that farmers as well as households were suffering as a result of water shortages.

“Traditionally, St Elizabeth has been the breadbasket of the country. However, for the last few years, because of extreme weather conditions, the farmers of St Elizabeth have not been able to produce to their full potential. We now see the onset of another adverse weather condition, this in the form of drought, and it is my belief that we should counteract it now through strategic intervention to ensure that our farmers and farms are saved and that our households have the necessary commodity of water”, said Green.

“I believe that the National Irrigation Commission, National Water Commission and the Municipal Corporation should jointly produce a schedule of trucking water to the most affected areas, which are communities in the Pedro Plains and Mountainside divisions”, he said.

The news release reported Green as saying that while he would be seeking to alleviate the situation through his constituency development fund, Cabinet ministers, Audley Shaw, Karl Samuda and Desmond McKenzie had also committed to move with alacrity.

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