Essex Primary gets $3 million rainwater harvesting system
Principal of Essex Hall Primary School, Maxine Lewis, is grateful for the new rainwater harvesting system at the institution, which was constructed by Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL) at a cost of approximately $3 million.
Lewis said the system, installed before the start of the new academic year in September, has ensured reliable access to safe water for the proper running of the school. It includes a 10,000-gallon storage tank, gutters, and pipelines.
“I am very elated about this water project – overjoyed. I don’t even have words to describe how I feel. Now, there is water in the pipes in the bathrooms. We had to use buckets to flush the toilets, but this (rainwater system) has made a difference in the children’s lives and in teaching them how to practise proper hygiene by flushing toilets and washing their hands,” she said.
Lewis said the school, located in the hills of West Rural St Andrew, had faced a water shortage for many years as it does not have access to piped water.
Previously, seven water tanks, three of which were provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), were the only source of water for the small school population.
These tanks had to be filled regularly by the National Water Commission (NWC) and other providers, but Lewis noted that often, the trucks were not able to deliver the commodity on time and the school would be without water for days.
She said that since the installation of the rainwater system, there had been no need to call the NWC or water- truck operators given that the system had enough water stored to supply the entire school.
“Lunch is now being cooked and served to the students on time,” she says, noting that for many of them, the school lunch is their only substantial meal for the day.
Lewis noted, further, that enrolment had increased, now that there is water running through the pipes on a regular basis. She said that students are being taught how to conserve the water.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, under which the RWSL falls, Pearnel Charles Jr, who officially handed over the system to the school last week, noted the impact of the project in transforming the school community.
“The rainwater harvesting system at the school now catches and stores 10,000 gallons of rainwater, which is used by students, teachers, janitors, administrative staff members and others,” he said.