Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
EAST CENTRAL St James Member of Parliament (MP) Edmund Bartlett is calling on the local authorities and citizens to take greater steps to prevent unplanned housing development in his constituency, noting that this negatively affects water distribution.
Bartlett made the call while speaking at last Friday's East Central St James Education Council's 2012-13 tertiary scholarship awards ceremony, held at Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, where 35 tertiary-level students from the constituency were awarded with bursaries valued at J$2 million to fund their studies.
In his address, Bartlett said during a tour of the constituency the previous day with representatives of the National Water Commission, the need for steady water supply came to his attention.
"Yesterday, we were able to outline to the communities that a programme of distribution is to be implemented to enable these communities to have water three to four days a week, so that there can be some adequacy to cover all the communities that are connected to those particular sources," Bartlett said.
He blamed inadequate water distribution on the growth of informal settlements throughout the constituency, which he said was putting pressure on the system to meet all the needs.
"People are now building on top of the water tanks, meaning at higher elevation than the tanks, so the distribution - which is essentially gravity-fed - cannot reach you, because you are either at the level of the tanks or you are higher than the tanks," said Bartlett.
The MP named several agencies that he said need to get active in enforcing proper zoning regulations, and also called on citizens to stand up against illegal water connections.
"The National Environment and Planning Agency, the parish council, and the planning authority have got to take this thing very seriously in hand, because it is clear that we are not able to provide the water resources in several of these communities apace with the demand," noted Bartlett.
"Our own environmental practices are diminishing the availability of these water sources, and we have to take note of it and deal with it."