My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Rainwater Harvesting Bill means Rainwater Net Billing to end NWC's Water monopoly

Monday, December 14, 2015

How Rainwater Harvesting Bill means Rainwater Net Billing to end NWC's Water monopoly

Rainwater Harvesting is possible the best way to reduce the possibility of another drought in 2016. Only one little problem; it's actually not legal.

This as there is no law or regulatory framework governing the use of rainwater as a source of potable water or irrigation as noted in the article “Rainwater Harvesting Laws Still Outstanding”, published Monday December 14, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This may come as a surprise to many Jamaicans, but using rainwater isn't actually legal but it's not illegal either. Rather if falls into a legal grey area as no specific section of the Water Resources Act of 1995 law stops you from collecting, storing and distributing rainwater for personal usage.

So it should be of interest to Jamaicans to known that Jamaica will soon have an upgrade to our current Water Sector Policy which has been in place since 1999. According to JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) Opposition Senator DR Christopher Tufton, this upgrade is coming soon, albeit he gave no definite timeline for its implementation.

Good to note that JLP Opposition Senator DR Christopher Tufton has been advocating for the implementation of Water Harvesting since who was the former Minister of Agriculture, has been advocating for legislation governing rainwater Harvesting since July 2015 as noted in the article “Tufton: Time to act on rainwater Harvesting resolution”, published Monday, July 06, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

Rainwater Harvesting Bill – St. Elizabeth Parish council's Rainwater Policy guideline is the template

The upgrade may also make it mandatory for ne and current building to have Rainwater Harvesting as an option to having central Water supply. This as the Draft Bill for Rainwater Harvesting includes amendments to the Country Planning act as well as the Building Act.

It may be modeled off the St. Elizabeth Parish council's Rainwater Policy guideline, which they issued in august 2015. Their Rainwater Policy guideline basically stated that any new houses being built can opt to collect and use rainwater Harvesting even if connected to regular water supply as noted in “Parish council issues mandatory rainwater Harvesting policy”, published Monday, August 31, 2015, The Jamaica Observer

This is effectively the same thing I've been pointing out needs to be done across Jamaica as 2016 is looking to be another drought filled year with more food shortages as predicted in my blog article entitled  “How the Drought of 2015 means higher prices for Jamaican Christmas 2015 and Easter 2016”. 

So why has it taken the Government of Jamaica so long to address this issue of Rainwater Harvesting?

Rainwater Harvesting Bill coming - The Water Resources Authority mandate to be expanded to Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting is both legal and yet illegal. Best to describe it as being non-legal, as no law forbids or allow you to harvest rainwater; it’s really up to you.

Please note Rainwater Harvesting strictly relates to capturing water that falls from the sky in or tank or several collected tanks. If it falls on the ground and runs into a catchment facility, that’s technically runoff that’s headed towers a river or underground aquifer for a well.

However, you cannot distribute rainwater to other people via piping, as access to Potable Water is controlled by the WRA (Water Resources Authority) which licenses the NWC as the sole islandwide distributor of Water via a piped Network.

The WRA is a little known government agency closely related to NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) that fall under the portfolio of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

The WRA monitors and controls all of Jamaica's water resources both above ground as well as underground as describe in the history of the WRA. The WRA was formed by the Water Resources Act of 1995, repealing the Underground Water Control Act and the Water Act. In 1999, the Water Sector Policy was established to deal with issues of water distribution across the island via rivers and wells as well as how to address them.

So this coming Rainwater Harvesting Bill will not only make it mandatory for buildings to capture water from the sky, but the Water Resources Act of 1995 as well as the Water Sector Policy of 1999 will have to be adjusted to allow them to regular Rainwater as a resource.

Rainwater Harvesting Bill coming - Country Planning Act and Building Act Amendments point to Free Water

Upon careful reading of the Water Resources Act of 1995, no reference is made to the regulation of rainwater or even even water made using solar desalination as described in my Geezam blog entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”.

Apparently the law lords who wrote the original Water Resources Act of 1995 did not foresee Rainwater Harvesting as well as Solar Desalination as a problem, being as collecting enough water would require large tanks, something that the Act already covered.
However, the WRA only has control over water that in a river or well. If you catch it from the sky before it reaches in either resource controlled by the WRA, it belongs to you and you can use it as you wish.

Equally, if you can desalinate dirty water or sea Water via using a Fresnel lens based solar power as described in my blog article entitled “How to upgrade your Solar Desalinator to a Solar Cooker and make a Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis”, it’s also yours.

This as in using solar desalination, your actually vaporizing the water and recollecting it, effectively making rain inside of your apparatus. This is the water equivalent of what Solar Power is to people who use electricity from JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company).

If you can collect rainwater and make it potable via using evaporation techniques or even a activated Charcoal filter as described in my blog article entitled “Going back to Mother Earth - How to Reuse the Brita Water Filter in Water Purification Pitcher”, you basically have “free” water.

Rainwater Harvesting Bill - Net Billing of Rainwater to end NWC’s Water Monopoly

Knowing this, the Government of Jamaica needs a Policy framework to regulate Rainwater Harvesting.

This is necessary before the NWC (National Water Commission) rolls out their digital water Meters and begins to overcharge us for Water leakage from those old water pipes in your home as predicted in my blog article entitled “Why NWC Digital Water Meters means Water Rate Increase coming in 2016”.

The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change, not wanting to lose revenue from water, may seek to regulate the use of Rainwater Harvesting by making it Billable using digital water meters.

That is to say, if you have rainwater collected using your rainwater Harvesting apparatus, you'll be billed for its usage, as it can be argued that you're preventing rainwater from reaching rivers and wells that the NWC owns.

This would be equivalent to Net Billing in electricity involving the JPS Co, only with the rain from the sky completing the loop. Whether you’ll be able to make money from the sale of rainwater to the NWC via connecting a pipe back to their main remains to be seen.

This would also have to be detailed in the upcoming Rainwater Harvesting Bill as a Net Billing facility for Rainwater could be a moneymaker for small households that can collect, purify and distribute rainwater to potable water standards that the NWC has outlined.

The Rainwater Harvesting Bill also needs to cover how the Rainwater Distribution will be regulated. I predict many large collectors of Rainwater would be interested in going into the businesses of set up community Rainwater Harvesting Projects to collect, purify and distribute Rainwater using artificial dams and catchments tanks.

In short, the Rainwater Harvesting Bill may mark the deregulation of the NWC’s monopoly on Water Distribution in Jamaica and pave the way for competition from Rainwater Harvesting Contractors and Entrepreneurs. It may even pave the way for moisture Harvesting from moisture farms in the future.

So hopefully, this Rainwater Harvesting Bill will be implemented before the NWC rolls out their Digital meters. With Jamaica facing a Drought come 2016, a move needs to be made to make all sources of water usable for drinking as well as Agricultural purposes before the Drought of 2016 is upon us.

 Here’s the link:

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