WEST PORTLAND Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz has said the Government should focus on putting resources into the upgrade of minor water supplies across the island.
"Most MPs use their CDF (Constituency Development Fund) to try and help the parish council to supply and truck water and to fix a pipe here and there," Vaz said in the House last week as he made the call for more resources for these systems.
He argued that drought is a way of life for many Jamaicans in the rural areas, especially Portland.
"The parish council operates minor water supplies in each parish and those have not been upgraded, serviced or anything, because the parish councils don't get an allocation from the central government to upgrade and maintain them," Vaz argued.
He continued: "The catchments are 30 and 40 years old, the pipes are 30 and 40 years old and therefore whatever water being produced goes to waste."
In the meantime, Water Minister Robert Pickersgill said the Government is not opposed to looking into the feasibility of having the National Water Commission (NWC) taking over water supplies currently operated by the parish councils.
West St Mary Member of Parliament Joylan Silvera made the suggestion in the House last Tuesday, but Pickersgill noted "it has been tried before".
"It has always been a case of resources. Why it does not do well under local government is that they really don't have the requisite resources and they have to deal a lot with social water, a lot of it they don't get compensated for it," the minister said.
Meantime, Vaz told The Gleaner that there are 19 minor water supplies in Portland which are operated by the parish council. He said 15 are in West Portland and four East Portland.
Additionally, Vaz said there are 21 water supplies controlled by NWC in the parish, 13 in East Portland and eight in West Portland.
"Since 2008, I have spent $38.2 million on 11 water supplies in my constituency inclusive of the $2 million to be spent on the upgrading of the Black Hill and Orange Bay water supply," Vaz said.
He told The Gleaner that the NWC, in collaboration with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the Rural Water Authority, has spent $86.9 million since 2008 to provide water to communities.
He said despite this, residents struggle to get piped water in their homes, making drought a way of life to many of them.
'Since 2008, I have spent $38.2 million on 11 water supplies in my constituency ...,' Vaz said.