New dam to be built as government seeks to increase water storage capacity

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Karl Townsend, Chief Country Officer at JMMB


Amidst worsening drought conditions and chronic water shortage in sections of the Kingston Metropolitan Area, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced plans to significantly increase the amount of water available in the fugure through the addition of storage capacity, including construction of a new dam, among other measures.

Addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, the Prime Minister explained the approach being taken: “So, this would mean increasing the capacity at the Hermitage reservoir(dam) to allow for increased storage during the rainy period. What that means… is that the present facility will have to be expanded; we will have to build a new facility, and the NWC is already scoping that, as to what that will cost.”

That “new facility” will be constructed downstream from the present Hermitage dam, "so the water you get further downstream would be cleaner," he explained.


The Prime Minister said there will also be improvements at Mona Reservoir, where dredging is being contemplated. 

"The problem with that is that the base of Mona Dam is lined with clay, and so if you dredge it, you could disturb the sealed lining, so we have to be very careful" he noted.

"It is being examined to see what technology could be deployed to do it, but it is not something that we take lightly," he stressed.


In addition, a 15 million gallon water treatment plant will be built at Content on the Rio Cobre in St. Catherine under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.  It is projected to cost US$60 million.

“The NWC, the Cabinet Appointed Enterprise Team along with the Private Sector Consortium is mandated to complete all negotiations within 45 days,” Mr. Holness said.

He announced that construction should commence later this year and last a period of 24 months. 

The Prime Minister's announcements come as the National Water Commission (NWC) continues to grapple with rapidly depleting levels at Mona and Hermitage and below normal rainfall.

Coupled with this problem, several communities are enduring significant water lock-offs due to damaged pipes caused by ongoing road works.

NWC/private partnership
More recommendations are being made for entrepreneurs and private investors to engage the NWC regarding the provision of some of its services.
Karl Townsend, Chief Country Officer at JMMB, said due to the dire situation facing the island with the protracted dry spell, there are significant opportunities for strategic partnerships to be formed with the NWC.
He said there is a similar arrangement in the electricity sector so this should be explored for the supply of water. 
"You know that you're gonna sell this water resource or these services to the NWC, we're gonna pay for it; and to the extent you can package it and structure it in a way that the investor gets the return they are looking for and they can mitigate some of the risks... (because) investors are always looking for good projects to invest in," he asserted Tuesday on RJR's Beyond The Headlines
Mr. Townsend argued that what the NWC needs usage and the water resource, but it does not necessarily have to be involved in how it is developed or distributed, therefore it should consider outsourcing from private sector interests. 


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