Ministry pumps $50m to tackle drought
Davion Smith, Gleaner Intern
The Government says it has spent more than $50 million this year trucking water to drought-stricken areas across the island.
Ian Hayles, state minister in the water ministry, told The Gleaner yesterday that more money will be spent to continue water-trucking efforts.
"We are seeking funds now to start up a new set. We are looking at doing a first phase of $10 million to alleviate some of the problems out there," the minister said.
He told The Gleaner that the parishes of St Mary, St Ann, St Elizabeth, as well as sections of Clarendon and St Thomas are experiencing drought conditions.
Hayles said the shortage of potable water "will affect our (the water ministry's) internal budget in terms of what we had allocated for trucking of water this year".
He is encouraging citizens to start storing rainwater.
The National Water Commission (NWC) said since the beginning of the year, Jamaica has received less than 60 per cent of the rainfall it normally received by this time.
Hayles said some of the sources which the country has depended on over the years are no longer reliable because of human action.
"Our people keep on cutting down the watershed areas," he said, adding that people have constructed buildings close to the aquifers, which "pollutes the water to an extent where it's not suitable for consumption".
Charles Buchanan, communications manager at the NWC, said Kingston and St Mary are primary areas that are affected. Buchanan said the Iterboreale water system in St Mary "is severely depleted as a result of the drought".
Buchanan told also The Gleaner that the Hermitage dam in Kingston has fallen to 22 per cent of its water capacity since Monday, down from 27 per cent last week, while the water in the Mona reservoir is at 55 per cent.
Buchanan said that the company's water-management measures need to be intensified. This, he said, will result in increased periods of no supply to NWC pipelines.
"[The drought] will have the effect of reducing the amount of water available to supply our customers. Those customers would expect to have interruptions in their water supply, especially at nights, and they may have interruptions during the day and receive water at low pressure." Buchanan said.