KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday May 22, 2019 – People who waste water in Jamaica, amid an ongoing drought, could be fined or face time behind bars.
The National Water Commission (NWC) has moved to make it a prosecutable offence to either waste water or use excessive amounts of its potable water for non-essential purposes.
In a prohibition notice published in the newspapers yesterday, which takes effect on Friday, the NWC said that more stringent water conservation measures must now be observed and the limited potable water that is available should be reserved for essential uses such as drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and sanitation.
Some of the breaches of the prohibition order are using NWC-supplied water in drought-affected areas for: watering of gardens, lawns, grounds and farms; refilling of tanks, ponds, or swimming pools and/or for use other than normal domestic services; washing of vehicles by the use of a hose; watering or washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages; and any purpose which may require the use of a considerable or excessive quantity of water.
Persons who break the law may be prosecuted; and if convicted, they are liable to a fine imposed by the parish courts or imprisonment for up to 30 days if they fail to pay the fine.
NWC Corporate Communications Manager Charles Buchanan said the prohibition order is intended to send a signal to the population that not only is it not right to waste water from an already limited supply, but it is also now illegal.
“We’re hoping that it will serve to persuade persons to do the right thing and in instances where persons persist in doing the wrong thing, we would have the force of law to support us in taking action against them,” he said.
Meantime, the Government has allocated an additional J$100 million (US$743,496) for the trucking of water and distribution of tanks to parishes affected by the current dry spell, including Kingston, St Andrew, Portland, St Mary and St. Elizabeth.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement during the sitting of the House of Representatives yesterday.
“The NWC will continue to spend on trucking of water and (provide) water tanks to the most affected parishes,” he said. Prime Minister Holness further informed that the Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has been instructed to meet with the Members of Parliament and Councillors of the affected parishes, to work out trucking schedules for communities, with emphasis on critical services such as the hospitals, health centres and schools.