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Drought panacea! American company offers solutions

Published:Saturday | February 6, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mark Beckford, Staff Reporter


With Jamaica experiencing severe drought conditions not seen in the island in several years, a company is offering to sell the Government water-treatment systems to ease the water shortage affecting the island.

The Gleaner understands that BSL Global Water Systems, an American company, has put in a proposal to the Government to provide water-treatment systems to pump water from the sea.

This water would be hooked up to the islandwide water system. The company has offered to install and operate the water-treatment systems at little cost to the Government.

pumps large quantity

The minimal cost would be approximately $0.002 per gallon. BSL says it could offer a system which could pump up to five million gallons a day.

"We have put in a proposal to the Government to look at our system, and we have many systems, and our water-treatment systems can be connected to rivers, streams (and) wells," Jamaican representative of BSL Global Water Systems, Barry Bonitto, said.

He added that the water-treatment system would offer many benefits to the island.

The process, however, would include desalination, which refers to several processes which remove excess salt and other minerals from the water. Desalination as a process has had its supporters and detractors. Those who are against it say that it is expensive for developing countries and has many side effects. Those who support it say that new a industry, such as salt, could be formed from the by-products.

too expensive

Minister of Water and Housing Horace Chang is pouring cold water on the idea being proposed by the company. When contacted by The Gleaner, Chang said that the process would be too expensive and not sustainable.

"We have enough water in the island and mobilising those (water-treatment systems) is not viable and it is twice as expensive," he said.

Chang was quick to point out that while companies would offer subsidies, there were other things included in the package, which might cost the country in the long run.

He said that there were many natural-water resources in the island and the Government was working towards accessing and maximising them.

Chang said that the Government was expanding water supply to Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine in the next 24 months. He also said that 22 rural systems would be brought on stream in three months.