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National Water Commission urging Jamaicans to conserve on water

Published:Monday | July 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill

As severe drought continues to affect the island and with a very dim forecast for potential rainfall, the National Water Commission (NWC) is yet again imploring Jamaicans to conserve on the precious commodity.

The NWC, through a prohibition order to take effect today, will be introducing more stringent water-conservation measures against persons who breach the terms of the order, specifically for all areas of the island served by drought-affected water supply systems.

Charles Buchanan, corporate public relations manager at the NWC, addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, said the commission is seriously challenged in exercising control on persons who continue to waste water.

"Here in Jamaica and around the world, people tend to do things by habit and they do not change easily. In instances like now when we have just published a new prohibition order, which takes effect (today) we expect that we will see further reduction in those kinds of activities," Buchanan said.

The notice bans the use of water supplied by the NWC for irrigation of and watering of gardens, lawns, grounds and farms, refilling or supplying of tanks, ponds, or swimming pools and for use other than normal domestic services such as drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and sanitation. Washing of vehicles using a hose, watering or washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages or 'outrooms', or any activity which may require the use of a considerable or excessive quantity of water, is prohibited.

"The prohibition order helps the NWC in a number of ways. In the first instance it helps us to give us some kind of legal backing when we make a persuasive case to somebody to say this is not right for you to be wasting water and it is also illegal. In most cases when we bring it to their attention we will point out that the law supports us," Buchanan said.

PROHIBITION ORDER

"It also helps us if we have to go to enforcement, which we hope we do not have to. We are, in fact, having discussions with the police high command to see in what way we can get more support to our own efforts of enforcing provisions like a prohibition order."

Water restrictions are now in effect for Kingston and St Andrew as a result of the reduced distribution capacity of the Constant Spring/Hermitage System, Mona and Hope treatment plants. Customers in the Corporate Area are currently receiving piped water supply between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

Customers in the Portmore area will also be without water from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Fridays until further notice. Water systems in East Rural St Andrew, St Thomas, Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland that are currently being impacted by low rainfall will experience periods of no piped water supply or low water pressure.

"As in most instances, most people will give lip service to their love of the environment and their appreciation for conservation but when it actually comes to doing what is required, we are yet to see," Buchanan said.

The prohibition will remain in effect until further notice. However, persons who are caught and convicted before a resident magistrate are liable to fine, and in default of payment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com