Rainfall not enough to ease restrictions, says NWC
Despite rainfall in sections of the island over the past week, the National Water Commission (NWC) says the drought-induced water restrictions in the Corporate Area will not be lifted just yet.
According to the NWC, the rainfall experienced has not been sufficient to fill the Mona Reservoir and Hermitage Dam or bring the water levels to a comfortable level to adequately provide daily and round-the-clock water for use to the affected communities.
Delano Williams, acting corporate public relations manager at the NWC, told The Gleaner on Tuesday that it would take more than a week’s worth of heavy rains to trigger the lifting of the restrictions, which were imposed on February 20.
Williams stated that the current water level at the Hermitage Dam is 45 per cent, while the Mona Reservoir is at 53 per cent.
The Hermitage Dam has the capacity to hold 399 million imperial gallons of water while the Mona Reservoir holds 808 million imperial gallons.
“The Mona [Reservoir] has had a slight increase, but there is no grounds for relaxing the restrictions at this time ... . There’s just not enough water at this point coming in,” said Williams, noting that the rivers feeding into the storage facilities were also dry.
He said that the Mona Reservoir collected two million gallons more water on Tuesday, but said that this only represented two full days of water supply. He added that over the last five to six days, the reservoir got close to 16 million gallons.
“When we had good rainfall say, last year, there would have been times when the Mona [Reservoir] would have climbed by 20, 30 million [gallons] within a 24- to 36-hour period. So, for us to be getting 16 million over five, six days just tells you that it’s still not much,” he told The Gleaner.
“[Although] we’ve gotten some rain, I don’t think that even the forecast rain for Kingston has manifested itself in a seriously significant way. Similarly, none of the watersheds have shown that there has been an increase in flows,” Williams said, adding that no change to the inflow has been detected in the Hermitage Dam.
He said that the NWC has been trying to minimise the rate of fall at the Hermitage Dam to close to a million gallons per day.
“Yesterday (Monday), we had no fall at all, [but] today (Tuesday), we fell by half of a million. That’s the closest we could stay to an improvement in inflows, but nothing significant to say that there has been any kind of rise,” he detailed.
Williams said that the NWC will continue to do its best to retain the current operating times for the Mona Reservoir from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to supply its customers.
“At 6 p.m., we shut down to try and replenish what is coming in into the storage,” he said.
The NWC is notifying residents of Queensbury, Perkins Boulevard, Patrick City, and nearby areas in St Andrew that water delivery is currently being disrupted due to pump issues at the Molynes booster facility.
Williams said that the agency is working to restore normal supply times to the residents in the evening.
However, the impact of the drought season has also impacted the island’s western parishes and the NWC’s nearly 90 water treatment facilities islandwide, the majority of which are still operating at the same levels when compared to last week, Williams said.
The Logwood treatment plant in Hanover is now operating at 70 per cent capacity, while the Moravia treatment plant, which serves both Manchester and Clarendon, is also at 70 per cent.
“What it requires is that we have to shut down [the treatment plants] most nights to allow for the refilling of the storage tanks that are used to distribute,” he said, adding that the Two Meetings treatment plant serving Manchester and Clarendon is operating at 40 per cent.
The drought is also having an effect on the Wakefield treatment plant systems and the Troy system in Trelawny, which respectively service the communities of Wakefield, Bounty Hall, Deeside, Dromilly, Hermitage, Friendship, Bunkers Hill, Greenwood, Falmouth, Troy, and New Hope.
The NWC urged Jamaicans to conserve water as much as possible as wastage could jeopardise the nation’s water security.
Other NWC systems impacted by drought
• The Cambridge treatment plant over in St James serving areas such as Bickersteth, Seven Rivers, Richmond Hill, Shortwood, Cambridge, Ducketts, Greenwich and Argyle Mountain and The Niagara system serving Niagara, Johnson, Elderslie, Accompong and Joint Wood communities.
• The Vaughnsfield system in St James affecting German Town and sections of Garlands.
• The Red Ground treatment plant in St Elizabeth affecting the communities of Red Ground, Bogue, Pine Piece. The Aberdeen system affecting the communities of Aberdeen and Top Williamsfield.
• The Two Meeting system, which serve the areas of Spaldings, Succeed, Limit, Alston, Santa Hill, Tweedside, Laughton, Junction, Mount Mariah, Nine Mile, Zinc Shop, White Shop, Saunguenetti, Sedgeburgh, Richmond, Cobbla, Mizpah, and Mount Olivett.