Se­na­tor wants Gov’t dis­trib­ute water tanks

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ro­mario Scott/Gleaner Writer

DECLAR­ING THAT ac­cess to water is a hu­man right, Op­po­si­tion Se­na­tor Sophia Frazer-Binns is push­ing for the Govern­ment to en­force build­ing or­ders which make it manda­tory for de­vel­op­ers to have water-har­vest­ing sys­tems in mul­ti­fam­ily dwellings.

But as a start, she wants the Govern­ment to in­tro­duce a pro­gramme to dole out the so-called black tanks to ev­ery house­hold.

She was strongly sup­ported on the Op­po­si­tion benches with ta­ble pound­ing from her col­leagues.

In re­cent times, sev­eral high­rise build­ings and other prop­er­ties have been de­vel­oped with con­cerns mount­ing over whether oc­cu­pants will be able to ac­cess a re­li­able water sup­ply.

Speak­ing in the Se­nate yes­ter­day on the Spring Gar­den (Ir­ri­ga­tion Area) Or­der 2020, declar­ing the area to be an ir­ri­ga­tion area, Frazer-Binns warned that water se­cu­rity should be a pri­or­ity for the Govern­ment.

“As we move to ex­e­cute and op­er­a­tionalise the Build­ing Act, we en­sure that ev­ery build­ing has a sys­tem for har­vest­ing rain­wa­ter,” the se­na­tor said, ap­peal­ing to Mayor of Kingston Del­roy Wil­liams who sits on the Govern­ment benches in the Se­nate.

In June 2019, Daryl Vaz, then min­is­ter in charge of the water and cli­mate change port­fo­lios, said a re­vised Rain­wa­ter Har­vest­ing Plan­ning Pol­icy Guide­line was com­pleted and the Cabi­net sub­mis­sion is be­ing pre­pared for ap­proval and is­suance.

The guide­line would be is­sued to the lo­cal plan­ning au­thor­i­ties to be in­cluded as a con­di­tion of ap­proval for all new res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial build­ings, where ap­pro­pri­ate, to be con­structed, ac­cord­ing to Vaz.

“The de­vel­op­ments that are tak­ing place now – the mul­ti­fam­ily de­vel­op­ments – that we find a way to work with the de­vel­op­ers to en­sure that we se­cure water for these de­vel­op­ments,” Frazer-Binns fur­ther urged.

STAN­DARD PRAC­TICE

She men­tioned that in some east­ern Caribbean coun­tries, it is stan­dard prac­tice to have stor­age for water un­der­ground for houses to sup­ple­ment the main dis­trib­u­tor of water.

“If we can do that, then you would not have to worry about sit­u­a­tions where the NWC (Na­tional Water Com­mis­sion) has to do main­te­nance and then has to cut off the main be­cause you will al­ways have water. The is­sue of water be­ing a hu­man right will be sat­is­fied and the is­sue of hy­giene will no longer be a con­cern be­cause per­sons will have water,” the se­na­tor con­tended.

In pi­lot­ing the or­der, Se­na­tor Les­lie Campbell stated that ru­ral de­vel­op­ment has been given added fo­cus by the An­drew Hol­ness-led ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He said no one oc­cu­py­ing land will be dis­placed with the pas­sage of the or­der.

Ear­lier Se­na­tor Lam­bert Brown had ques­tioned who are to be the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the ir­ri­ga­tion area.

He ex­pressed con­cern that the Govern­ment might be pre­par­ing the land and big in­vestors would push small farm­ers off, as it would not be equipped with ir­ri­ga­tion mech­a­nisms, mak­ing it more at­trac­tive.

The or­der was even­tu­ally ap­proved with sup­port from the Op­po­si­tion.

FRAZER-BINNS

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