The Senate yesterday passed a motion requesting that the Government consider crafting a policy mandating that future residential developments include rainwater harvesting systems.
The motion, which was moved by Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton, also recommended that the Government conduct a review of the nation's existing water policy.
According to the motion, which was unanimously passed, the proposed measures are critical components that could help to drive the development of a drought-resilient society in Jamaica.
In moving the motion, Dr Tufton noted that for several reasons, the National Water Commission has not been able to properly meet the water demand of citizens. He said this has resulted in severe hardships for families across several communities.
"Due to a lack of confidence in the public water supply system where they exist and the lack of such systems in a number of areas, the commercial water trade is booming and continues to grow," Tufton claimed.
"Within Jamaica, consumers fork out between J$8-10 billion annually to purchase branded and bottled drinking water," he added.
Government Senator Norman Grant, while supporting the motion, argued that the country's water problem lies in the management and distribution of the commodity.
However, Grant said rainwater harvesting "must become a bigger part of the conversation" as the country deals with the strategy to provide all Jamaicans with potable and irrigation water.
He emphasised that the installation of rainwater-harvesting systems in new housing developments would mitigate the predictable drought conditions experienced mainly during the dry months.
As part of the consideration of the new policy, the opposition senator said the Government could examine the possibility of providing property tax rebates to offset the additional costs to developers.
"This could be administered by the local authorities who would verify build-out and approve time-bound rebates from property taxes," he explained.