Chang commits more water for Negril
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Minister with responsibility for water, works and housing in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr Horace Chang, says despite the government’s fiscal limitations, his administration is committed to address the chronic water shortage in the resort town of Negril.
“The government has extremely limited space for borrowing … that is the challenge that we face, but I will have to find the money for Negril,” Dr Chang told members of the Negril Chamber of Commerce during a meeting held at Couples Swept Away last week.
Recent information from the National Water Commission (NWC) indicates that drought conditions now affecting sections of western Jamaica have reduced the output level of the Logwood Treatment Plant in Hanover as much as 80 per cent.
This has resulted in a number of communities —including Negril — in the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland, with little or no water.
At one of the chamber meetings held two weeks ago, regional water supply and distribution manager at the NWC, Dr Richard Meggo, pointed out the need for the expansion of the Roaring River Treatment Plant in Westmoreland in an effort to alleviate the severe water shortage in Negril.
Dr Chang concurred, but added that such an expansion would require substantial funding.
“I think in the short term we will have to expand the Roaring River Plant, but even that is going to take a nice chunk of funding, but I have already started discussions,” he told the meeting.
“A five million-gallon-a-day plant will cost about US$15 million to build and that is what it will take to bring sustainable relief to the affected areas,” Dr Chang argued.
He added that the project could take up to 12 months to be completed.
“Something has to be done to bring relief... even if I can find the funding now and start construction, procurement and so forth, it will not be able to produce a (water treatment) plant for the next winter season (end of year),” Dr Chang emphasised.
The minister pointed out that the Logwood Treatment Plant in Hanover, which was expanded a few years ago, usually produces 10 to 15 million gallons per day.
He said, however, over the past three years there has been a significant decline in production.
“It (output) is not there now. The fact is we just don’t have the supply there,” he said.
Dr Chang told the businessmen that the NWC will also be exploring the possibility of putting in place a booster station in Green Island, Hanover, aimed at getting the supply of water from the Great River Treatment Plant on the Hanover/St James border into the Negril area.
The minister noted that the long-term major project is “to connect the entire North Coast”, bringing additional supplies from sources in Rio Bueno and the Martha Brae areas in Trelawny into Negril.
“In fact, the Rio Bueno plant which we want to activate... that river, which comes from way up in the Cockpit Country… we know has enough water to almost supply all of Jamaica. It doesn’t look very big, but it is very steady, very reliable. In the dry season you will get more water out of it. In fact, more than during the rainy season sometimes,” disclosed Dr Chang.
“We have in fact started the process to build some additional production plants there, but that will take some time.”
He added that it could take up to US$150 million to undertake the project, which includes extending pipelines and connections between Ocho Rios and Negril.