The island could experience extended dry periods, as a result of the recently ended La Niña weather phenomenon, says Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda.
“We will just be coming out of the La Niña weather phenomenon, where over the last three to four years, we have had the benefit of wetter conditions. The next three to four years we are likely to have the difficulty of dealing with drier conditions. It is why we have been investing at an unprecedented rate,” the Minister said.
Senator Samuda was speaking on the Nationwide News Network (NNN) radio programme ‘Ask the Minister’, yesterday (May 30).
Information from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Global Institute for Climate Smart and Resilient Development, and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) indicate that climatic conditions are ideal for the El Niño weather phenomenon to impact the Caribbean region, which is typically associated with very dry and very hot conditions.
Minister Samuda said last year, the Government invested $4 billion to upgrade the infrastructure of the National Water Commission (NWC).
However, even with these investments, he said the actions of citizens are critical as the island continues to experience extended drought conditions, resulting in dwindling water sources.
Notwithstanding the intermittent periods of rainfall, Senator Samuda said the critically low water levels at the Mona Reservoir and the Hermitage Dam in Kingston and St Andrew have again prompted the call for members of the public to practise stringent conservation measures.
“Citizens need to understand, certainly in the eastern end of the island, that the Mona Reservoir is at 32 per cent capacity and the Hermitage (Dam) system is at 37 per cent capacity, so we are in a dire situation,” he pointed out.
The Minister said the NWC will be enforcing its Prohibition Notice, which became effective on May 26, to prevent the use of potable water for non-essential purposes.
“We have put forward these prohibition notices. We are hoping for moral suasion. We will be enforcing, but we are hoping that all citizens will take heed and will hold their neighbours accountable for us,” he said.