IF Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill has his way, National Water Commission (NWC) customers located in elevated communities where more energy is utilised to distribute potable water, could be called upon to pay a higher rate for the commodity, than their counterparts on lower ground.
The need for the revised rate was expressed by the minister during last week's groundbreaking ceremony in Elgin Town, Hanover, for the US$12.6 Lucea Pipeline Replacement & Non Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction project.
"And so we want in the NWC... you can't be spending money to pump water up the hill where those people who enjoy it up there are paying the same rate as the man down here (the lower areas)," Pickersgill argued.
Presently, an energy cost is reflected on all NWC customers' bill, in the form of the Price Adjustment Mechanism (PAM), which is calculated based on the US dollar exchange rate.
It is, however, unclear how the energy cost for customers in elevated communities would be calculated.
Meanwhile, Pickersgill noted that the NWC — the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) largest customer — pays nearly $.5 billion monthly for energy.
He lamented that over the years there has been a sharp increase in the cost of a barrel of oil, coming from as low as US$10 to US$107 currently.
"So you see it started there (rate of exchange) and at the basis of the NWC producing water, especially when it goes up the hills...is energy to pump it up there," the water minister stated, adding that to treat and distribute water involve foreign exchange.
The multimillion dollar Lucea Pipeline Replacement & Non Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction project involves the construction of a new 20-inch transmission pipeline through Lucea, which will take water from the Great River Treatment Plant to the areas along the corridor leading to Negril.
Work under the project is expected to start later this month and is estimated to be completed within
On completion, the project is expected to improve the supply of water to NWC customers in many communities, including Green Island, Lucea, Elgin Town, Kew, Clifton, Ashkenish, Dias, Cacoon, Middlesex and Medley.