With a prohibition notice restricting the use of water supplied by the National Water Commission (NWC) now in effect, the Government is again urging Jamaicans to conserve on use of the commodity as the country continues to experience drought conditions.
The latest appeal came from minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Matthew Samuda during a statement in the Senate last Friday.
"All Jamaicans must develop a mindset of conservation around water use. Our climate is changing, weather patterns, in particular rainfall patterns, are shifting and becoming unpredictable. This means that the infrastructure that was built to take advantage of long-standing flows would now be at risk of being obsolete or inadequate.
"On top of that, Jamaica's water infrastructure is aged and not sufficient to produce and distribute water according to our settlement patterns and our demands. While the Government is working to improve our water infrastructure, every citizen must begin to practise water conservation measures and make local household investments in water capture and storage," said Samuda.
He noted that the Government has already announced that it will procure and distribute water tanks to households that are not in a position to do so themselves; and will invest in greater trucking capacity to alleviate the problem of residents in areas where the infrastructure has not yet caught up
"The Government is very clear on the plight of the people facing the worst of this awful drought and is doing everything possible to alleviate the pain and strain," Samuda assured as he pointed to projections that Jamaica will continue to have less rainfall for the next three months.
He said while Jamaica has experienced some increased rainfall in recent weeks, it is neither evenly distributed or sufficient to provide respite for affected communities, with the eastern end of the island continuing to suffer disproportionately.
"The Meteorological Service of Jamaica [Met Service] has projected that Portland is likely to be the most impacted followed by other eastern and east-central parishes. We are cognisant of the particular suffering which has faced the people in eastern Jamaica, not least of all those in Portland, which makes theâ€¦projections, all the more troubling," added Samuda.
He underscored that the less than average rainfall since last December has been insufficient to recharge aquifers and wells, and to recover water systems.
As such, the NWC had declared that more stringent water conservation measures must now be observed due to a deficiency in the supply of water owing to the drought affecting sections of the island.
In its notice, which became effective last Friday, the NWC said it prohibits, in all areas of the country served by the drought-affected water supply systems, the use of water supplied by or obtained through the pipes of the commission for irrigation and watering of gardens lands, grounds and farms; refilling or supplying of ponds or swimming pools, and/or use other than normal domestic services such as drinking, cooking washing bathing and sanitation.
Also prohibited is washing vehicles by use of a hose, watering or washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages or out rooms, or any purpose which may require the use of a considerable or excessive quantity of water.
Further, the NWC said the prohibition remains in effect until further notice, and while in effect, no person shall use or cause or permit to be used any water supply by/or obtained from the pipes of the commission for any of the purposes specified in this notice.
"Any person who contravenes this may be guilty of an offence, liable on summary conviction before a resident magistrate to a fine and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days," the notice read.
Samuda said the key point in the NWC's notice is the drought-affected water supply systems, "so communities will be advised, which systems are indeed affected by drought or that this applies to."