Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Letter of the Day | Water security Jamaica’s No. 1 priority

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM


There are several priorities for the survival, growth and development of our beloved country, Jamaica. My opinion is that water security is priority No. 1.

According to the World Bank, approximately 1.6 billion people live in countries with water scarcity, and the number could double in the next 20 years. Recently, while listening to an interview with one of the managers from the National Water Commission, the reporter mentioned the recent drought in Cape Town, South Africa, and asked how long our present water supply in the Corporate Area would last during a drought. He said 40 days .

This is a frightening prospect. With a population of just over 600,000 people living in the Corporate Area, if there is a drought, our water supply would last for less than two months. What will happen when the population is one million-plus?

Kingston is on the threshold of becoming a fast-growing city, especially as infrastructure development and economic opportunity continue to woo Jamaicans from the countryside.

With the prospect of an increasing population, our present inadequate water supply, and exposure to flooding, climate change and other related hazards, our leaders must act now to secure water security for the present and future generations.

There are several things we should do to prevent a water crisis.

Devise a comprehensive water-security plan for the country, to cover storage, flooding, management, effective use of wastewater, protection of aquifers and continued education.




Increase the storage for Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, by revisiting the plan to create a facility to receive flows from the Rio Cobre. I understand that there was a plan to do this project over 40 years ago, and cost a major factor for having it postponed. But by delaying its implementation, it won't cost less.

Implement a comprehensive Water Security Education Plan, starting in our schools, so that future generations will better appreciate and understand the importance of water security.

Jamaica has had good rainfall and water supply over the past year. We should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency.