MONTEGO BAY, St James — There are renewed calls for the National Water Commission (NWC) to find another location for the sewage treatment pond that now takes up what many regard as prime space for commercial development in Bogue, Montego Bay.
The ponds occupy roughly 60 acres of land in the tourism mecca.
With the city’s urban centre now saturated, Montego Bay’s deputy mayor, Councillor Richard Vernon is among stakeholders who would like the NWC facility relocated to make way for expansion. He wants an assessment done to determine the practicability of relocating both the sewage ponds and the sometimes problematic Retirement landfill.
He is convinced that the two facilities, like the Pye River Cemetery, which is also located at Bogue, have “limited the effective expansion” of the city.
“In hindsight, city planners may regret former decisions. Nonetheless, we must look to the future. This future must include a feasibility study for the relocation of the sewage plant and the landfill on the basis of environmental preservation and socio-economic enhancement as the city core expands,” Vernon told the Jamaica Observer.
“A key feature of sustainable development is levelling developmental efforts across developmental dimensions. We must learn this, but, most importantly, practise it,” he added.
President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Oral Heaven said he would throw his support behind any move to relocate the ponds in order to facilitate commercial growth.
“If there is a move to relocate and use the land for business development and commercial activities then, yes, I personally would support it,” Heaven said.
There has been a suggestion that the Bogue operations could be handled at another NWC treatment facility in downtown Montego Bay.
“The National Water Commission’s Bevin Avenue Sewage Plant is already properly suited — subject to appropriate upgrades — to be the natural facility for relocation of sewage treatment activities,” recommended a Montego Bay-based stakeholder who asked not to be identified by name.
The facility at Bogue was established in the 1990s on the periphery of what was then a largely undeveloped section of the city. At the time, residents in nearby communities expressed concern that their quality of life would be negatively impacted by noxious odour from the plant. The area has now attracted both commercial and residential developments and, while the stench remains a concern for some, one resident who lives nearby claimed that there is only a problem when there is heavy rainfall.
Residents of Bogue and other communities are also adversely affected by smoke when there is a fire at the Retirement landfill. As with the ponds, there have long been suggestions that the landfill should be relocated.