St Elizabeth communities get rainwater catchment tanks

The Portsea tank after rehabilitation.  


The Portsea tank before rehabilitation.

The community rainwater catchment facility at Rose Hall was among the stops for Water Minister Robert Pickersgill during a recent visit to South East St Elizabeth. Here, Pickersgill (second left) joins hands with (from left) Councillor Layton Smith (Myersville Division); Richard Parchment, member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth; Audley Thompson, managing director of Rural Water Supply Limited; and Derrick Knight, a resident of Rose Hall.

SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — As part of the drive to increase domestic water supplies and reduce the impact of drought, an upgraded community rainwater catchment tank was recently commissioned in Portsea, South-East St Elizabeth.

Water Minister Robert Pickersgill, who was involved in that function, also visited and inspected another community tank at Rose Hall, South-East St Elizabeth, which was repaired and brought into service sometime ago.

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) reported Pickersgill as telling residents at Portsea that rainwater harvesting was critical to ensuring the country’s water security in the face of increasing and intensifying droughts.

Much of Jamaica, including southern St Elizabeth, experienced one of the worst droughts in living memory earlier this year. Pickersgill, who also has ministerial responsibility for land, environment and climate change, reiterated that such dry weather episodes were likely to worsen in years to come and that people should seek as much as possible to store and conserve water.

The minister said a long-standing Government pledge for rainwater harvesting capacity to be part of the national building code was closer to reality.

“The Rainwater Harvesting Policy within the Building Code is now with the Legislation Committee and soon, installing rainwater harvesting infrastructure will be a requirement for developers,” Pickersgill said.

At Portsea, the 270,000-gallon capacity catchment tank, repaired at a cost of $5.3 million by the Rural Water Supply Limited, will serve some 1,500 residents of Portsea and surrounding communities.

Rehabilitation works on the tank, which was built in the 1940s by the then British colonial government, involved extensive repairs to the concrete catchment area; replacement of the catchment fencing and wall footing; waterproofing of sections of the tank wall; laying of 800 metres of pipeline; the covering of the tank and bushing of the compound in addition to other miscellaneous work.

The Portsea tank is one of 33 identified for rehabilitation in southern St Elizabeth, Pickersgill said.

“So far, we have rehabilitated 16 tanks, including the Portsea Catchment Tank at a cost of $20.7 million and we are currently working on two others in the communities of Genus and Melsham,” he said.

When completed, the tank at Genus will serve some 4,000 people in the districts of Carsline and Doncaster, while the Melsham tank will serve 2,000 in Brown’s Hill, and Red Bank.

Pickersgill said community rainwater harvesting tanks ease the pressure on the St Elizabeth Parish Council to truck water, as well as on residents who are often forced to buy truck loads of water during dry weather.

Member of Parliament for South-East St Elizabeth Richard Parchment told the Jamaica Observer that properly supervised quality control and rules governing water usage were essential ingredients in the programme to upgrade community water tanks.

Less than half of St Elizabeth residents have access to water piped to their homes by the National Water Commission. Many people rely on rainwater catchment tanks at their homes or on facilities such as the community tank at Portsea.


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