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Make rainwater harvesting mandatory

Rainwater harvesting is suggested as a measure to address the changing climate and as an alternative to piped water supply in some areas in Jamaica.
Make  rainwater harvesting  mandatory

Hope River catchment area:photo courtesy of The Gleaner

At least two major players in the management of water support a call for future residential developments to carry rainwater harvesting systems.

Following a resolution by Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton, Basil Fernandez, managing director of the Water Resources Authority, and Charles Buchanan, corporate public relations manager at the National Water Commission (NWC), believe the idea is a good one. Fernandez felt a number of factors had to be considered.

"It may be something that we can add in the building code. One has to look, however, at the cost, in terms of the cost of housing," he said. "The roof also has to be made out of certain material." He noted that using fibre glass shingles, for instance, was not recommended as there is the belief that unhealthy particles may get into the water supply. He also felt using a water-based, non-toxic paint was better.

"While it (harvesting) is a good idea, it needs to be clearly thought out and a strategy put in place as to how it will operate," he said. "For example, what are going to be the conditions for the permit, for insisting on rainwater harvesting?" He also advised that the containers used be properly sanitised on a regular basis to prevent any disease. Fernandez noted that harvesting was widely practised within some sections of the region.

"I know that it is a prerequisite for any house that is to be built in the British Virgin Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman and other areas of the Caribbean," he said. Due to climate change, Fernandez noted, the predictions are for drier wet seasons, and wetter dry seasons.

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