My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Water Security Policy and Water Sector Liberalization Needed to avoid Drought

Friday, April 9, 2010

Water Security Policy and Water Sector Liberalization Needed to avoid Drought

Apparently, with the ongoing drought, it seems that the water has also dried out of the minds of the members of the Government of Jamaica, particularly Senator Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing, as it seems he believes he has exhausted all short term options as it relates to alleviating the water woes of the people of Jamaica, with nary a mention of a long term plan as it relates to our Water Security.

The Ministry of Water and Housing’s efforts to finance the ambitions Drought Mitigation Program met with a legal roadblock, as it seems that the Ministry of Water and Housing cannot just borrow the JA$477 million from the NHT (National Housing Trust).Under the National Housing Trust Act, NHT funds are for housing, not NWC (National Water Commission) spending as NHT Chairman Howard Mitchell stated.

A position for which he got support from Senator Daryl Vaz, Minister of Information as published in the article “Water plan a no-go”, published Thursday April 1st 2010, Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter, The Daily Gleaner.

Had he a long term Water Security Policy much in the same way Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining has a Energy Policy, he would not appear so confused on television.

It appears that Senator Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing main plan is excavating wells, rain water storage via a “Black Tank” program and trucking water. The problem that John Public has with his plan, despite its elaborate design, is the most obvious: where is the water going to come from? The ongoing drought had pushed the water levels in the Hermitage Dam to record lows, as it currently has approximately eighty thousand (80,000) imperial gallons as opposed to its full capacity of approximately four hundred thousand (400,000) gallons of water, evidence of reduced river inflows.

This means that most of the wells will have silt in them and require expensive water purification techniques. With no rain in sight and the continuing La Nina Effect, the trucks and the “Black Tank” program appears to be a desperate stab in the dark, giving John Public the impression that the Water Minister is just attempting to appear to be doing something in an effort to placate the cries of the people who miss the creature comforts of regular baths and washing their dirty cars as Swans on the River Thames regular preen their feathers, loving the water they depend on.

I currently live within five (5) miles of Farquahar Beach and the sea and its breeze is a cool inspiration to the soul and a balm for a hot day. The plentiful seawater is not drinkable, but it can be economically made potable via Solar Evaporation or Reverse Osmosis Technology, both used in the Sahara Desert and in Japan respectively for seawater extraction.

Of the two, the former is the cheaper, the latter requiring expensive filters and electricity consuming equipment mounted on barges. Solar Concentrators [mirrors] focus sunlight and evaporate seawater, the condensate collected via natural cooling ready for NWC processing to make it potable.

Surprisingly, Senator Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing has never mentioned these methods, which once implemented using economy-of-scale, can produce potable water at prices cheaper than currently possible with salt and other mineral by-products as a VAS (Value Added Service) whose resale could offset the cost of this eco-friendly venture, only seawater pumps using electricity would spoil an otherwise completely “Green” venture.

The only problem would be to transporting the water to the NWC Treatment Plants for processing cost effectively. But pipelines are to be built to carry LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) from the ships straight to the JPS Co. Power Plants and Bauxite plants under Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining, any Water Security Policy with this Solar Evaporation System would need a pipeline constructed to carry the extracted water to NWC Treatment Plants.

Such a system would guarantee our Water Security in much the same way LNG from the People’s Republic of Trinidad and Tobago would guarantee our Energy Security as according to the article “LNG for Jamaica a National Priority - Manning”, published Friday June 26, 2009, by Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, Business Writer, The Daily Gleaner.

Rather than be at the mercy of the Rain Gods, as is obviously the case with Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing, who currently is left with praying to them for rain as the last remaining option, the NWC can use the very same Technology from a bygone time to shape our destiny as it relates to our Water Security in the present era – without borrowing JA$477 million.

Thus the purpose of this letter is not to castigate Senator Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing, but merely to suggest that Jamaica must now, after the rains have finally fallen and brought an early conclusion to the drought that Water Sector Liberalization should be pursued in terms of allowing for non-traditional sources of water to be have a Framework by which Local entrepreneurs can enter in the business of producing water for both the Agricultural and Domestic Supply, thus bringing online such sources as Solar Desalination, Rainwater Capture, Water Recycling and Private Wells.

Also, a Water Security Policy be implemented involving not only the implementation of the above but additionally a plan to identify all major rivers in Jamaica and repair or construct more storage facility for water, in much the same way Joseph of the Bible made storage for grain for the coming famine during the seven (7) years of famine in Egypt, very much akin to the expected seven (7) years that the Recession in the United States of America is expected to last till 2015.

The year is significant as it is the year predicted by the article IEA official warns of shrinking oil supplies: Report”, Sunday August 2nd, 9:04 pm ET, AFP, Yahoo! News.

It is the year in which oil production around the world would have been outstripped by demand and thus prices of oil would be driven by demand only and not speculators, an outrageous fortune that has been forecasted by none other than Sir Richard Branson and British Business Leaders in the article “World faces Oil Crunch by 2015”, published Sunday 14 February 2010, The Sunday Herald (AFP).

If Jamaica is still has an economy dependent on oil and still importing oil for energy purposes by 2015 with no net investment (local and foreign) and increase in production as opposed to an emphasis on services, the global inflationary effect that this increase in the main driver of production will have will most certainly force the entire world into a Second Recession, as is now possible and shaping up to occur in the United States of America.

This is due to the US of A’s reliance on debt to encourage spending in the short term, its abundance of ill-placed faith in the Services Sector and lack of investment in the Production Sector. This Second Recession, referred to as a Double Dip Recession or “W” shaped Recession Recovery as opposed to a long term “U” shaped Recession Recovery is a theory which is echoed by Dennis Chung in the article “RISK OF A DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION?” published Friday, September 18, 2009, contributed by Dennis Chung, Business Observer.


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