By Douglas McIntosh
JIS Contributing Writer
ST. CATHERINE, Jamaica, April 29 (JIS) — The government is to spend some $20 billion (US$160 million) to undertake two water improvement projects in St. Catherine this year.
They are the Soapberry wastewater treatment plant, which is to be expanded and improved at a cost of approximately $13.5 billion (US$110 million), and the new Rio Cobre water treatment plant, to be built at a cost of approximately $6.1 billion (US$50 million).
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr. Horace Chang, during a tour of the multi-billion dollar National Water Commission (NWC) groundwater recharge system, in Innswood, St. Catherine, on Wednesday, April 27.
Speaking with JIS News, Dr. Chang said the Soapberry project is being undertaken to boost the facility’s technology, thereby enabling it to recycle the approximately 20 million gallons of wastewater currently being discharged from the plant into the sea.
“We hope to take off all the wastewater in the metropolitan region (incorporating) the Corporate Area and St. Catherine, and then recycle that for irrigation and other purposes,” the Minister said, noting that this is done by many countries globally, which have the capacity to provide a reliable water supply for their citizens.
Underscoring the project’s importance, Dr. Chang, who has responsibility for Water, Works and Housing in the Ministry, said that “water is a finite commodity, and we cannot afford to waste it.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Chang said the Rio Cobre water treatment plant, to be established at Content in St. Catherine, is intended to provide approximately 15 million gallons of potable water per day.
He advised that the administration is seeking to pursue this project through a public-private partnership.
“It’s part of a public sector investment program in water, which will ensure we can be drought resilient and adapt to the challenges of climate change,” the Minister added.
Dr. Chang pointed out that both projects will complement the Innswood groundwater recharge facility, which was developed at a cost of just over $1 billion to provide water to communities along the plains of southern St. Catherine, and the Kingston Metropolitan Area.