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Cooper's misplaced rage against NWC

Published:Monday | February 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The Sunday Gleaner of January 24, carried an article attributed to Professor Carolyn Cooper under the unfortunate and fallacious title, 'NWC killing us softly'. For fear that persons unfamiliar with the facts, the legal mandate and the role and function of the National Water Commission (NWC) in Jamaica's development process were to have read and believed the mistaken views about the NWC contained in the article, the NWC is compelled to respond and set the record straight.

In the first instance, the NWC is not, and has never been, the owner of the Long Mountain lands referred to in the article. With the exception of the specific lands which form a part of the NWC's Mona reservoir complex, the NWC has never had the possession of those lands, notwithstanding their relative proximity to the Mona reservoir. Hence, any issue or disquiet with respect to the use of these lands is a matter to be taken up, first and foremost, with the owners of these lands, not the NWC.

In the second instance, the NWC is not an approving or regulating agency for development. The NWC, therefore, cannot legally dictate the use to which developers put their property.

Erroneous data

In the third instance, Professor Cooper failed to distinguish between the description given on the website of the initial design concept for the Mona reservoir in the 1930s and the eventual built facility of the Mona reservoir in the 1940s and 1950s. For example, the Mona reservoir does not now have an 'earthen embankment' but is a concrete-and-stone structure all around, with a capacity of more than 800 million gallons.

Further, to describe the Long Mountain range as 'the primary watershed for the (Mona) reservoir' is, at best, misleading, since the area is not a catchment for the Mona reservoir and its condition has no direct impact on the volume or quality of water contained in the reservoir. The Mona reservoir receives it water from the Hope River (some two miles away) and the Yallahs and Negro Rivers (some 19 miles away). The states of the Hope River and the Yallahs watersheds are, therefore, of far greater significance to the Mona reservoir.

In the fourth instance, while Professor Cooper's expressed concerns for the protection of the Mona reservoir and the environ-ment in general is laudable, the article selectively uses the refe-renced environmental impact report to draw conclusions in ways that the report does not or to say more than the report actually says.

It is to be noted that any existing or proposed discharge of sewage along Long Mountain does represent a potential threat to the groundwater quality in the vicinity. Hence, NWC is opposed to the discharge of sewage in the area - from existing, future or whatever source. While every development project may have environmental implications, it is not the mandate of the NWC to decide and pronounce on those matters.

Apart from the many erroneous assumptions, it is also inexplicable how the NWC comes to be the villain in a story about a project that, by the article's own admission, is not being done by the NWC. The NWC does have its faults, but please do not blame us for things we have not done or for which we have no responsibility.

We hope that the above points serve to clarify at least some of the issues raised in the article and correct the baseless accusations against the NWC.

I am, etc.,


Corporate Public Relations


National Water Commission

'The NWC does have its faults, but please do not blame us for things we have not done or for which we have no responsibility.'