NEPA to re­clas­sify recre­ational wa­ter bod­ies as part of anti-pol­lu­tion efforts

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Pe­tre Wil­liams-Raynor Gleaner Writer pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

THE NA­TIONAL En­vi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Agency (NEPA) is mov­ing to re­clas­sify recre­ational wa­ter bod­ies to en­sure the most im­por­tant ar­eas are pro­tected from the neg­a­tive im­pacts of pol­lu­tion.

This is in ac­cor­dance with its obli­ga­tions un­der the Pro­to­col Con­cern­ing Land-Based Sources of Pol­lu­tion (LBS Pro­to­col), which it rat­i­fied in late 2015.

“It (the re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion) takes a wa­ter­shed ap­proach and so (is based on) those wa­ter­shed ar­eas that will con­trib­ute more in terms of the pol­lu­tion load­ing as well as the sen­si­tiv­ity of the coastal en­vi­ron­ment,” said An­thony McKen­zie, the agency’s direc­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion.

“And there is go­ing to be an early draft be­cause we are go­ing to need a wider dis­cus­sion on it. It also needs to sit in the con­text of the re­gional sen­si­tiv­ity map­ping that is a part of an­other pro­gramme of the LBS,” he added.

That draft, McKen­zie noted, is to be ready by March.

His rev­e­la­tions come as NEPA takes flak for its mon­i­tor­ing of wa­ter and air qual­ity on the is­land, with the pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port ti­tled Re­view of the Le­gal and Pol­icy Frame­work for Air and Wa­ter Qual­ity in the Is­land of Ja­maica.

The re­port, which has re­tired se­nior lec­turer at the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies, Dr An­thony Green­away, as the main tech­ni­cal researcher and con­trib­u­tor, was pro­duced by the Ja­maica En­vi­ron­ment Trust, with fi­nanc­ing from the Com­mon­wealth Foun­da­tion.

Among other things, the 80-page doc­u­ment iden­ti­fies gaps in the le­gal frame­work as well as li­cens­ing, mon­i­tor­ing, equip­ment and test­ing in­ad­e­qua­cies, and in­suf­fi­cient data dis­sem­i­na­tion as chal­lenges to the real­i­sa­tion of clean air and as­sured clean wa­ter on the is­land.

Against this back­ground – and hav­ing un­earthed the ev­i­dence to sup­port their claims – the re­port calls for, among other things, the “re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion of coastal and fresh wa­ters ac­cord­ing to their in­tended uses as is done in many Caribbean and other coun­tries.

“Con­cen­tra­tion of lim­its and reg­u­la­tions could vary be­tween classes,” it added.

PRO­TO­COL RE­QUIRE­MENTS

Mean­while, also in line with the LBS Pro­to­col re­quire­ments, McKen­zie said legally bind­ing stan­dards for sewer ef­flu­ent and dis­charges have been put in place even as they re­ceive sup­port for the devel­op­ment of a na­tional pro­gramme of ac­tion for in­te­grated wa­ter­shed and coastal area man­age­ment and/or the pre­ven­tion of pol­lu­tion from land­based sources and ac­tiv­i­ties.

“There is a nu­tri­ent man­age­ment

pro­gramme that will be launched next month and that is look­ing at mea­sures to con­tain the nu­tri­ents from pri­mar­ily agri­cul­tural sources. It is a pro­ject sup­ported by UNEP (United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme, now UN En­vi­ron­ment). There is a lit­ter pro­gramme as well that is part of the LBS frame­work that we will be launch­ing,” he noted.

The pro­to­col serves as the re­gional in­stru­ment in the wider Caribbean re­gion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of UN En­vi­ron­ment’s Global Pro­gramme of Ac­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of the Marine En­vi­ron­ment from Land-Based Ac­tiv­i­ties and its Re­gional Seas Pro­gramme.

On co­or­di­na­tion of ca­pac­ity-build­ing train­ing in wastew­a­ter treat­ment to im­prove en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing and as­sess­ment, McKen­zie said that is a work in progress.

“There was some sup­port to the Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy to es­tab­lish a train­ing pro­gramme. That was launched ear­lier this year with sup­port from UNEP as well, and we part­nered on that,” he re­vealed.

“They have a train­ing pro­gramme now to train wastew­a­ter tech­ni­cians and op­er­a­tors. They have also built the ca­pac­ity in their lab to analyse for cer­tain pa­ram­e­ters,” he added.

Plas­tic pol­lu­tion in a river within the Caribbean re­gion.

Tony Green­away

An­thony McKen­zie

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