WRA lays down ground rules for Bernard Lodge development
Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA) Peter Clarke on Friday served notice that the revised Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan will be held to strict environmental standards, especially in relation to the use and management of rivers, streams, and wells.
Addressing a press conference at Jamaica House, Clarke said that the developers were not given carte blanche approval but that there were many stipulations that the WRA laid out as mandatory, subject to granting approval.
The general points of concern related to the fact that a section of the proposed development fell within the boundaries of the aquifer protection zone. The stakeholders want to guarantee that domestic and commercial water needs can be met over the long term.
Aquifers are masses of underground water-rich rocks.
The aquifer protection zone had been designated a no-build zone in 2004, consistent with the available technology at the time. However, according to Clarke, advances in technology and training have brought about significant improvements to the WRA’s monitoring capabilities.
The WRA took into consideration that any change of land use in the area, or any significant departure from the traditional crop – sugar cane, which used the flood irrigation system – would mean that recharging of the aquifer would diminish.
However, the WRA is now convinced that the use of sustainable developments that utilise captured surface water run-off, as well as treated grey water discharged in detention ponds and swales, could effectively provide substantial refreshing.
Clarke explained that a managed artificial recharge facility was constructed in 2014 for the replenishment of the nearby limestone aquifer.
It has the potential to put eight million gallons of water back into the limestone aquifer. Despite this improvement in the available water reserves, some water will still have to come from out the development zone, hence the need for the particular WRA stipulations. These include:
• Intense solid waste management.
• Storm water management.
• Wastewater management.
• Restrictive covenants pertaining to the types of commercial activities that can take place within the development zone.
• Positioning of buffer zones around existing wells.
• Regularisation of informal communities.
“All of these will require robust and consistent monitoring, as it will require a collaborative response from agencies,” Clarke cautioned.