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NWC outlines challenges serving deep rural districts

Friday, January 12, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The National Water Commission (NWC) is encouraging Jamaicans living in deep rural communities to explore using tanks and catchment facilities to store potable water for domestic use.

“It is not economically viable for the NWC to provide an efficient service and to generate a surplus that could be adequately reinvested if we take on some of these remote [and hard-to-reach] communities… it's just not possible,” said president of the NWC, Mark Barnett.

Speaking at a JIS 'Think Tank' on Thursday the president pointed out that the provision of potable water has become a costly undertaking and in some areas it is extremely expensive to provide the infrastructure to pipe water to some homes.

“In most of these communities, the population is not concentrated, they are sparsely dispersed across a large area and when you put in that level of investment (in terms of infrastructure) it is going to cost a lot, which you are not likely to recoup. We are into centralised systems,” he added.

He explained that putting in the infrastructure in some areas has become so expensive that it would be unwise to proceed without some form of direct subsidy from the Government to offset the cost. Barnett noted that there are a number of those communities and it would be more suitable to have other systems to provide potable water.

“Those days when people used to invest in rainwater harvesting, we need to revisit that. It's a significant area that must be part of any solution in solving and providing access to potable water. We have to now look again at community catchment systems,” he suggested.

“Tanks that were community catchments, those need to be revitalised, reactivated and utilised as part of the modality of providing water,” he added.

Barnett said that where Municipal Corporations operate these facilities, including major stand-alone wells that are used to provide piped water to small communities, the NWC will assist by providing experts to guide their efficient operations.

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