Pre­cious wa­ter project for south Manch­ester schools

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - OBSERVER CENTRAL | NEWS - — Garfield My­ers

Man­dev­ille, Manch­ester – For the peo­ple of south­ern Manch­ester, long droughts and wa­ter short­ages come with the ter­ri­tory.

In fact, as Mem­ber of Parliament for Manch­ester South­ern, Michael Ste­wart, is at pains to point out at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, most com­mu­ni­ties in that re­gion re­ceive no run­ning wa­ter from the Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion.

Many res­i­dents rely on wa­ter har­vest­ing us­ing rain wa­ter catch­ment tanks. But when the long drought sets in even large catch­ment tanks run dry leav­ing ex­pen­sive trucked wa­ter as the only op­tion.

Schools suf­fer more than most, es­pe­cially dur­ing the traditional dry months from Novem­ber to March.

“Each year I set aside some­where in the re­gion of $2 mil­lion in my Con­stituency De­vel­op­ment Fund (CDF) for truck­ing wa­ter but when the schools call some­times the money is fin­ished, some­times it fin­ish by the end of the first quar­ter … such is the de­mand for wa­ter,” Ste­wart told the Ja­maica Observer Cen­tral.

Pauline Mcken­zie, se­nior teacher at Wood­lands Pri­mary and In­fant School — close to Cross Keys — said that in such times of des­per­a­tion, the school has to find in ex­cess of $18,000 to buy a truck­load of wa­ter.

Those harsh re­al­i­ties in­flu­enced the Tony Freck­le­ton­led Manch­ester Par­ish De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee to join forces with the Cross Keys De­vel­op­ment Area Com­mit­tee in a wa­ter har­vest­ing and wa­ter qual­ity project for Wood­lands Pri­mary, Grove Town Pri­mary, Cross Keys High School and the Cross Keys Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

The $3.6 mil­lion project in­volved the ren­o­va­tion of wa­ter catch­ment tanks, gut­ter­ing and pip­ing to min­imise waste, as well as the pro­vi­sion of chlo­rine kits and other equip­ment to en­sure wa­ter qual­ity. Fund­ing for the eight­month project came from the En­vi­ron­men­tal Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica, the In­ter-amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank and the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Growth.

“It’s a sad fact that al­though bil­lions of dol­lars of baux­ite is be­ing taken out of this area we don’t have any run­ning wa­ter so we know we have to act to help the com­mu­nity,” ex­plained Freck­le­ton.

He is now look­ing to a sec­ond phase which will in­volve other schools in the south Manch­ester area be­ing sim­i­larly served. It’s all part of the Manch­ester Par­ish De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee’s aim to meet 2030 sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals which in­clude pro­vid­ing potable wa­ter for ev­ery­one.

For Wood­lands Pri­mary Se­nior Teacher Mcken­zie, the bot­tom-line is that her school now has greater wa­ter se­cu­rity. “I can’t tell you how grate­ful we are for this project,” she said.

Smeadly Reid, chair­man of the Cross keys De­vel­op­ment Area Com­mit­tee, said the wa­ter har­vest­ing project will al­low schools to meet press­ing needs other than wa­ter.

“Buy­ing trucked wa­ter costs many thou­sands of dol­lars, so if we can save that money the schools will be bet­ter off,” Reid said.

Wood­lands Pri­mary School with ren­o­vated wa­ter catch­ment and stor­age fa­cil­ity to the right.

A care­giver and her charges at the in­fant depart­ment of the Wood­lands Pri­mary and In­fant School

Mem­ber of Parliament for Manch­ester South­ern Michael Ste­wart says most com­mu­ni­ties in his con­stituency are with­out run­ning wa­ter.

Smeadly Reid, chair­man of the Cross Keys De­vel­op­ment Area Com­mit­tee, says the wa­ter project will ease pres­sure on schools in Manch­ester.

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