Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Worsening drought affecting several NWC systems, adjustments in water supply

Published:Thursday | April 25, 2019 | 9:27 AM

The National Water Commission (NWC) is reporting that worsening drought conditions have been negatively impacting a number of its systems across the island.

The NWC says there has been a sharp fall off at the entity’s largest storage facilities - Mona and Constant Spring - in addition to several other systems that have been experiencing significant reductions in the volume of water inflows.

The utility company disclosed that, based on reports up to Tuesday, April 2, there has been a drastic decline in water supply available for distribution from water systems in rural St Andrew.

These include the Bucky Plain and Mahoney systems in West Rural St Andrew.

 Also, the Griffin Water Supply system in Irish Town, St Andrew has seen a decline in output which has impacted the NWC’s ability to adequately serve the communities of Red Light, Irish Town, Industry, Village, Cottage Hill, Wiltshire, Cornfield, Hart Hill, Gayle Mountain, Bermuda Mountain, Jackfruit Tree, Rodney Pen, Cameron Hill, Enfield and Elleslie Way.

The NWC says it is a similar situation in several other parishes.

What the NWC is doing to address the problem

As an interim measure, the NWC says it has adjusted operating hours at water supply systems which involves shutting down these pumps for several hours in order to build sufficient storage levels before releasing the water for supply to the communities. 

According to the company, tremendous work has been put in place to ensure the sustained operations at several of these plants, some of which could be classified as seasonal systems, but, which in many cases are the most viable sources of water for many rural communities.  

Over the past months, the NWC says it has ramped up the expansion, rehabilitation and general maintenance of a number of plants to ensure that maximum inflows can be harnessed- thus ensuring continued operations.  

With many systems experiencing low inflows for over two months, and the likelihood for extended drought conditions, the NWC says it is hoped that these measures will help to alleviate some of the challenges faced by customers across the island.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the NWC team to keep the plants running, the shortfall in the water supply is being felt in several communities.

Affected communities and parishes

In St Catherine, the Berkshire Hall system has been experiencing significant down times due to the literal dry up of the river source that feeds the plant.  

The communities of Lime Hall, Laycock and New Ground in St Ann are also faced with similar water supply challenges as the New Ground receives approximately 10% of its normal inflows daily.  

A similar situation is now affecting the Seville system that serves the communities of Seville, Priory and its Environs.

In the mid to western sections of the island, the NWC says, the effects of dry conditions and reduced rainfall are also being observed at several plants.  

The Endeavour and the Mafoota systems St James, the Moravia system in Manchester, Y. S. Spring in St.Elizabeth, New Milns Pumping station in Hanover and the Queen of Spain facility in Trelawny have all lost over 60%-70% of their daily inflows.

Similar trends have been reported for sections of Clarendon, St Mary, St Ann and Portland, where several systems are operating between 20 and 40% of their normal capacity.

Water conversation

The NWC says stressing that it is very important for customers to implement conservation methods to safeguard the limited supply and urges customers to practice the 3 R’s Reduce, Re-use and Replace.  

• Reduce- monitor daily uses including shower times, and general water use
• Re- use- identify areas that water from laundry and other household activities can be recycled –eg. watering plants
• Replace- This involves active leak detection and replacement of faulty pipes and fittings

In addition, the NWC says it has also been targeting improved timelines for leak repairs and is inviting customers to continue to report leaks as soon as they are noticed.  

The company says it recently launched a new leak report page on its website which allows customers to upload leak reports, the system will then automatically generate a reference number which they can use to track their report. 

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