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Theft, leaks account for huge water loss daily

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Simpson Miller

FIFTY THREE per cent or approximately 108 million litres of the water produced for the Corporate Area daily by the National Water Commission (NWC) is either stolen or wasted through leaks.

This disclosure by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller comes as the worsening drought conditions have forced the utility company to ration supplies of the commodity to scores of communities in Kingston and St Andrew.

"This situation cannot continue ... especially in the period of prolonged drought. We cannot afford to lose one drop of water," Simpson Miller said of the high rate of losses being suffered by the NWC.

She was speaking at Jamaica House in St Andrew, before signing a five-year US$42.5 million or J$4.9 billion project aimed at slashing that number to 20 per cent by 2020.

The performance-based contract was awarded to the Israeli firm MIYA, an international non-revenue water reduction specialist.

As part of the project, which is being supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, MIYA has agreed to implement measures that will enable the NWC to improve its performance and maximise income from the water it produces.

Simpson Miller said the company - through a co-management approach with the NWC - is to conduct an audit of the utility company's network to determine the precise amount of water being lost to theft and leaks.

She said MIYA would help them develop and implement strategies aimed at reducing the rate of non-revenue water from 53 per cent to 37 per cent within two years, 30 per cent within three years and 20 per cent in the final year of the project.

"I note with interest that the project is performance-based so the US$4.5 million will be paid to the consultants as fees if the targets are met within the stated period," the prime minister underscored.

She said the economic benefit to the NWC from the reductions has been estimated at approximately US$250 million or J$29.2 billion in the five-year period.


efficient and reliable


"Importantly, it will improve the efficiency and reliability of supply to more than 650,000 residential customers," Simpson Miller noted.

Meanwhile, she said so far this year, the Government has spent more than $100 million to truck water to people in some of the communities worst affected by the drought.

In addition, she said the water ministry was working to put more rapid response water trucks into operation.

For the long term, Simpson Miller said her administration was reviewing the country's water supply plans, revealing that among the measures being considered is damming the Rio Cobre in St Catherine to provide an additional 50 million gallons per day to the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St Catherine.