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People's Report: Mandate underground water tanks for new constructions

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

As we are currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory, the call is again being made for improved collection of potable water and maintenance of the reservoirs at Hermitage and Mona, but now also for planned provision for the collection and storage of water in the building of housing schemes - other than the addition of unsightly plastic tanks for collecting National Water Commission-supplied water.

In other words, the 'harvesting and storage of rainwater which, properly done and with simple purification procedures, can be used for anything other than drinking, for which the added feature of boiling will be necessary.

Among other places that have effectively practised water harvesting, and which can be an object lesson for us, is the small island of Bermuda, which has no rivers, is just over 23 square miles with a crowded population of approximately 70,000 who enjoy an average standard of living to which we may never aspire for generations.

Each house is required to have an underground tank as part of its construction, and the roofs, which are incidentally very attractively designed, ensure the efficient channelling of rainwater for tank storage.

Central collection from rain, wells and desalination plants provides only a supplementary supply for trucking to households during serious droughts. The individual collection is essentially the primary source of water for the population.

Some adaptation of this practice would seem to be the way to go in relation to all forms of construction in the future development of Jamaica, especially in the context of the unpredictability of climate change and as we contemplate an increasingly industrialised landscape as we hopefully head for the Promised Land of a logistics hub.

For the already housed, I share my personal experience. On deciding to add an 8ft x 4ft porch at the back of our house, I constructed a 4ft deep tank underneath and have approximately 1,000 gallons of water storage space. While water can, if necessary, be collected from the NWC supply during periods of drought, the objective is to maximise the use of rainwater (so much of which otherwise goes to waste) and, with guttering to collect water from just part of the roof, I effectively conserve on use from the public supply.

A pump is, of course, needed to take the water from the tank to connect with the piping system, and maintenance by way of cleaning the roof, and adding purifying agents to the tank periodically, are necessary complementary practices.

I do believe that a number of our environmental and lifestyle challenges can be relieved with more self-help initiatives.

John Maxwell

Kingston 6