Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie says he aims to replicate artificial groundwater recharge systems in other parishes, similar to that at Innswood in St Catherine.
The Innswood artificial groundwater Rechargeable system, situated on 68 acres of land in St Catherine and was constructed at a cost of $1.7 billion with money borrowed from the Inter-American Development Bank, is said to be the largest in the Caribbean. Its main function is to divert some five million gallons of water per day from the Rio Cobre River through the National Irrigation Authority canal during the wet season, then settle into specially designed catchment facilities and eventually injected into the limestone aquifers to replenish the wells in the Bernard Lodge area.
As a prelude to World Water Day, which was celebrated on March 16, McKenzie toured the billion-dollar facility, which falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and signalled the ministry’s intention to develop similar sytems in other parishes.
“This is something I will engage the technical people in the ministry in a discussion on, to see how best we can replicate this system in other parishes, especially in Manchester and St Elizabeth that account for a significant portion of what goes on our tables,” said McKenzie.
He added that when he addresses the House in the upcoming sectoral debate, he will have much more to say on the join-up approach that the Government has taken to provide water for the Jamaican people.
Peter Clarke, managing director of the Water Resources Authority, which was instrumental in the establishment of the Innswood system, said groundwater resources are being tapped into and compromised in terms of the increasing solidity, and so the idea behind the project is to combat this solidity to preserve the nation’s water sources and the wells that are drawing water from the aquifers.
“We also want to preserve it so it becomes a facility to store water; and we want more water, so we have asked the NWC (National Water Commission) and the National Irrigation Commission that in order to take more water from the system, they have to fix leaks in the system to maximise the supply,” he noted.
Clarke said the agency is looking at other areas, such as the Rio Minho River, where an artificial recharge system can be developed.
The Innswood facility has been plagued with security concerns over the years. Widespread theft of equipment has been reported there since it was established. McKenzie said these concerns have been addressed with the Member of Parliament, Dr Andrew Wheatley, and that they are now seeing improvements over what existed before. He urged the community to take care of the investment.