KINGSTON – As parts of the island continue to experience drought, the senate says it wants the Government to review existing water policy and insert a requirement for new housing development plans to include rainwater harvesting systems.
Approximately half of Jamaica is now being affected by worsening drought conditions, due to the current dry season which is approaching its halfway mark. Eight parishes have been experiencing drought conditions ranging from “normal” to “severe”.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, who received a report on the matter on February 27, has described the situation as alarming. He has promised to discuss it with the cabinet to see how the delivery of potable water to affected areas could be improved.
The senate motion, piloted by Opposition senator Dr. Christopher Tufton, noted that Jamaica suffers from drought conditions each year, resulting in adverse consequences for residential and commercial activities and costs the Government millions of dollars each year.
Tufton said that based on population increase and global warming, global projections of fresh water resources are expected to come under increasing pressure in years to come and countries, like Jamaica, are particularly vulnerable to the impact of extreme weather patterns.
The motion called on the senate asked for a review of the current water policy to mandate that future residential developments include the use of rainwater harvesters in the process of establishing a drought-resilient society.
Tufton noted that nearly a third of the country’s population does not have access to piped water and where it exists, due to limited catchment, storage, processing and distribution infrastructure and water lock-offs are routine during certain times of the year.
He also said that in addition, the National Water Commission has major operational challenges largely due to lack of resources, and the commission’s infrastructure is old and has not kept pace with population increases. (Observer)