Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Breadbasket parish told to conserve on water

Published:Monday | November 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Water minister Robert Montague (centre) turns on a water system in Burnt Savannah in St Elizaneth. South West St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Hugh Buchanan is at left.

Water and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill has urged residents in St Elizabeth to conserve on the use of water, telling them it its likely that that section of the island could slip back into a drought.

"As you all know, the parish of St. Elizabeth is considered to be the breadbasket parish. However, our breadbasket has suffered tremendously from the effects of the prolonged dry period, particularly the southern sections of the parish," Pickersgill said.

The minister, who was speaking at a ceremony held at the Burnt Sanannah Sports Complex in St Elizabeth last week where he commissioned a $59-million water-supply system, said although there has been some rainfall recently, "one or two showers do not a drought break".

"The rainfall outlook for October to December continues to show a decline over most southern parishes, especially southern St Elizabeth, southern Clarendon and

southern St Catherine," the minister said.

"During this period, some south-central and south-western parishes are likely to slip back into abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions as we experience likely declines in rainfall over the next three months, and head into the dry season which runs from December through to March.

Hundreds of bush fires

The Jamaica Fire Brigade has reported that between January and July 24 this year, there were approximately 431 bush fires in St Elizabeth.

In warning residents to be careful in lighting fires, especially during dry periods,

Pickersgill pointed out that firefighters from the stations at Black River, Junction, and Santa Cruz had battled 166 fires in St Elizabeth, in July alone, and of that number, 147 were bush fires.

"I implore all of you not to utilise slash-and-burn techniques when clearing your land for farming. Indeed, our precious water supplies should not be used to extinguish bush fires," the minister said.

The constituencies of North East

St Elizabeth and South West St Elizabeth, represented in Parliament by Raymond Pryce and Hugh Buchanan, respectively, will benefit from the upgrading and mains-replacement project which was officially commission into service by Pickersgill.

Pickersgill said the Government "cannot afford the luxury of slowing down in the effort to provide Jamaicans with potable water.

"In spite of the fiscal constraints the nation faces, the work continues apace," the minister said.

He said the upgraded water-supply system represents the continued commitment of this administration to improve critical water

supplies across the length and breadth of the island.