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Earth Today | Better monitoring for local water resources

Published:Wednesday | December 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM
WRA is charged to protect Jamaica's water resources.

THE WATER Resources Authority (WRA), the entity with responsibility to manage, protect and control the allocation and use of Jamaica's water resources, is reporting a significant improvement in its capacity to fulfil its mandate.

This is thanks to assistance received as part of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

The WRA maintains a hydrological database and provides data, information and technical assistance to government and non-governmental institutions. Part of this responsibility includes hydrological forecasting, which involves the estimation of future states of hydrological phenomena, essential for the efficient operation of water infrastructure and the mitigation of natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.

As a beneficiary under the PPCR's Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) funded by the World Bank, the WRA has received a boost in its technical capacity to carry out such assessment and forecasting, through the development of a real-time hydro-meteorological monitoring network.

The improvement of the WRA's water management infrastructure involves the replacement, the upgrade or installation of new stream gauging stations and corresponding equipment, as well as the upgrade or installation of new rain gauges. Forty-five stations are to benefit, with 28 completed and 24 of that already providing real-time data.




"Due to the upgrading of the system ... this lessens the chance of data loss during weather events and increases the ability to develop and implement flood warning systems and to conduct post flooding assessments in a timely manner," said deputy managing director at the WRA, Peter Clarke.

"Furthermore, since the system provides continuous five-minute updates, this facilitates the development of other tools such as Intensity-Duration Frequency Curves that will be useful to other users with hydraulic design considerations such as engineers and forecasters," he added.

Incorporated into this upgrade will be the outfitting of a control room at the WRA's offices, which will allow for more efficient review of data and communication with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and other emergency management agencies, especially during extreme weather events.

WRA staff have also benefited from training in the installation, maintenance and use of the real-time data system, thereby reducing the need for the engagement of external technical contractors to carry out works after the end of the project.

The ICDIMP is executed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and other partners.