NWC cautious as water levels at Hermitage, Mona remain stable

THE National Water Commission (NWC) says water restrictions previously announced for the Corporate Area will continue, even as levels at the island’s two main catchment facilities remain stable.

Concerns have been raised by scores of residents about consistent water lock-offs in several communities amid the increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the capital city.

The lock-offs come against the background of the need for water in order to practise good hygiene to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has confirmed 34 cases of COVID-19 in Kingston and St Andrew, the second-highest number of cases behind St Catherine, which has so far tallied 95.

The NWC had last month announced nightly water lock-offs for a number of communities, beginning at 9:45 pm and ending at 5:00 am.

It did not say how many communities would be affected.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer 0n Monday, public relations manager at NWC Andrew Canon disclosed that at present, the Hermitage dam is 81.53 per cent of its capacity while the Mona reservoir has reached 74.6 per cent of its capacity.

The dam can store up to 400 million gallons of water, while the reservoir has an 809 million-gallon capacity.

As it now stands, Hermitage dam has 320.84 million gallons of water, while Mona reservoir is at 603.8 million gallons.

“We are seeing these levels and they are not bad; I would not describe them as woefully negative. That notwithstanding, we have to maintain the restrictions that are in place because we are now in the month of April and we do not know if we are going to experience a prolonged drought. So, there may be or may not be a prolonged dry spell,” Canon stated.

“The National Water Commission, as part of our proactive practice, will have to assume that things may not be as wonderful where rains are concerned so we can’t afford for any wastage whatsoever,” he added.

As a result, he said the restrictions for communities remain in place.

“While these numbers are encouraging, it does not mean that we should be cavalier or carefree with the way we manage the water supply. Every Jamaican must still be water-smart and play their part and not waste water,” said Canon.

In February, Jamaicans were warned to prepare for a sustained dry period this spring once again, due to abnormal rainfall creating serious implications for water supply and resources similar to 2019.

“This is a kind of deja vu signal for us, and it could spell further concerns for the availability of rainfall in the Corporate Area,” Evan Thompson, director of Meteorological Service of Jamaica said at a Jamaica House press conference at the time.

Explaining how things had progressed since the October/November rainy season, Thompson said a dry trend has developed since November, and normal rainfall in December was not enough to make up for the deficit from the summer which would have required an above-normal level of rainfall to compensate for the difference.

He said that at the end of December two parishes St Mary and Portland were characterised as having drought conditions. Another six parishes Kingston, St Andrew, St Ann, St Catherine, St James, and St Thomas had drier than normal conditions, which meant “there was no drought, but they were drier than normal”.

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