Clarifying the role of the Water Resources Authority
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Note is taken of the Editorial comment in the Daily Gleaner (2019/04/22) regarding the reallocation of water from the National Irrigation Commission to the National Water Commission, in order to supply domestic water for proposed housing solution(s) at Bernard Lodge, St Catherine.
While the Water Resources Authority remains mindful of the importance of agriculture to the economy, the decisions to change land use reside with the government, along with multiple agencies. Unfortunately, the Water Resources Authority is not the agency to bring any such decision to a conclusive end; thus, our public comments in that regard have remained by and large, reserved. However, what the Water Resources Authority is charged to act upon, to the best of its ability, is the viability of available water resources, regardless of the final decision taken, as well as to determine if and how potential water demands may be met.
This obligation, and I daresay authority, is vested in the Water Resources Authority through the Water Resources Act (1995). Through this Act of Parliament, the Water Resources Authority has been delegated the duty “to regulate, allocate, conserve and otherwise manage the water resources of Jamaica”. Thus, when presented with the current scenario that is under consideration, the change of land use, the Water Resources Authority can speak only upon the matter of water provisioning; this is exactly what was done.
All the comments made by the Water Resources Authority have been with regard to the management of water resources, the impact upon water resources, and the subsequent possibilities for the provisioning of water. Where the WRA has concerns regarding any matter that can impact on water resources, for example, change in land use or otherwise, these concerns are rigorously expressed and defended.
STRICTLY APPLY MECHANISMS
With the imposition of its moratorium on any new abstraction of water from this geographical area, the Water Resources Authority then has to strictly apply mechanisms that are constructive to the mandate “to regulate, allocate, conserve and otherwise manage the water resources of Jamaica”. The fact is that this, or any moratorium, in the areas where it is applicable, is maintained as a management tool for the regulation and allocation of water. Its imposition was determined after careful study and analysis of water input and output to the area. The matter of the imposed moratorium is recognised and respected by all participants in the water abstraction process; both public as well as private entities.
I trust that this has served to bring clarity on the role of the WRA, and you can be assured that we continue to act in the best interest of the people of Jamaica.
PETER M. A. CLARKE, JP, P.Eng.
Water Resources Authority