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Water crisis is everybody’s business – Barnett

Published:Monday | November 1, 2021 | 12:06 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer
Mark Barnett.
Mark Barnett.

As countries around the world continue to grapple with the effects brought about by climate change, Jamaica is now desperately seeking to preserve and conserve on water, which is a scarce commodity, especially in some communities.

The change in climatic conditions have resulted in a significant decrease in rainfall in all parishes across Jamaica, which has been triggering drought conditions for a number of years. The decline in rainfall is now forcing the hands of government and water experts to seek alternatives to quench the drought and to provide sustainable potable water to residents.

At The Gleaner’s Editors Forum last Wednesday, water experts, stakeholders, and other interests were asked the question, ‘To secure Jamaica’s water future we must’?

The question was tabled to Parris Lyew-Ayee, chairman of the Jamaica National Foundation; Basil Fernandez, rapporteur and former managing director of the Water Resources Authority; Mark W. Barnett, president of the National Water Commission (NWC); and Anthony McKenzie, director, Environmental Management & Conservation Division at the National Environment and Planning Agency.

BETTER PLANNING NEEDED

In responding, Fernandez said that better planning is needed as it relates to critical issues, which according to him, would enable them to identify the resources needed. He pointed out that there is no need to put what he termed as “the cart before the horse”, but rather to basically ensure that the planning is in place, so as to identify the resources, which will allow for the development to follow.

Lyew-Ayee stated that there is a need to seek help from various communications groups (media houses) to disseminate information and to sensitise people, and also to prod the Government into doing what needs to be done. It is against that background that Lyew-Ayee is seeking guidance from the media as to what assistance can be provided, so as to save the country from a water crisis.

Meanwhile, Barnett said it is the responsibility of every individual, governmental organisation, civil society groups and stakeholders to work together in an integrated way, so as to solve the perennial water crisis.

McKenzie stated that in order to secure Jamaica’s water future, he believes that there is a need to go to the water source and protect it and its watershed.

The water crisis, which is restricting residents from carrying out basic domestic chores, has worsened over the past five years, forcing the NWC to implement water restrictions across all 14 parishes, as several dams and reservoirs have fallen to their lowest levels as a result of the prolonged drought.

gareth.davis@gleanerjm.com