Legislators encourage rainwater harvesting as drought persists
Rainwater harvesting suggested as a solution to the scarcity of water supplied by the National Water Commission.

AMIDST calls to conserve water as drought conditions persist, Government and Opposition senators are at one on the need for rainwater harvesting as a solution to the scarcity of water supplied by the National Water Commission (NWC).

The NWC just last week issued a prohibition notice restricting the use of water for various domestic purposes, including washing of cars and watering of lawns.

"What we have to do is to really push rainwater harvesting, and I understand the challenge we face because if we are not having sufficient rainwater, then we really won't have much to harvest. But to the extent that we have rainwater, then we have to ensure that it is harvested properly," Opposition Senator Sophia Fraser-Binns said in response to a statement on the country's drought situation made by Minister without Portfolio in the economic growth and job creation ministry Matthew Samuda during last Friday's sitting of the Upper House.

She further suggested that developers be mandated to put infrastructure in place for rainwater harvesting in future developments.

FRASER BINNS... suggests that developers be mandated to put infrastructure in place for rainwater harvesting in future developments

"I can't understand why any developer should, in 2023, be undertaking any type of development, any multi-family home without it being a condition… that rainwater harvesting is done and that the proper things are put in place to ensure that rainwater harvesting is done," she said.

"I don't believe that it's something that is fair to the NWC. It's not fair to the country when we consider everything that is happening and it is, in my mind, a very small price to pay for the developments that are taking place," she said.

Fraser-Binns said the Opposition's position is that rainwater harvesting should be legislated.

"It has to be a part of our operations," she said, adding that she also understands the challenge it will pose for people in some rural communities and in the lower socio-economic strata of society.

Also supporting the call for rainwater harvesting was Opposition Senator Floyd Morris, who said he was very concerned about the level of construction taking place across Kingston and St Andrew and inadequate water storage for these developments.

"I really think that we must ensure that these mega-housing developments build storage facilities underground in order to harvest water that would be coming from these buildings. I think if we initiate such measures it will see significant water storage improvement in the city especially," he said.

In response to the suggestions, Samuda said the Government will lead the way in harvesting rainwater and will be greening all of its buildings.

"I am happy to report that the Forestry Department completed its greening exercise and is now doing rainwater harvesting and has sufficient water for its daily operations, and we will be working through the entire Government to ensure [this is done,]" he said.

He noted, however, that while rainwater harvesting is something that the Administration encourages strongly, it is not "doable in every context".

Samuda said while it will be mandatory in some areas, the same approach cannot be taken in other communities, not just because of costs at the household level amongst the country's poorest, "but because the capacity to treat and use and manage that water carefully does not necessarily exist at the household level and it is not appropriate or scientifically sound in all areas".

"There are areas where the run-off is absolutely critical for the recharge of wells and aquifers. So we can't do it in every single area, but where it can be done, it should be done and will be done," he said.

Alecia Smith

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