Water flow slows in Jamaica as drought intensifies

E-Taiwan News reports that a severe drought in Jamaica is choking off water supply to hospitals, homes and schools, and forced the government to spend millions of dollars on both temporary relief and longer-term improvements. About 100 of the island’s 460 water systems managed by the National Water Commission have been affected, with some capacity levels down 50 to 70 percent, spokesman Charles Buchanan said Thursday. “You have some customers who have never had this kind of drought impact in the last 23 or so years,” he said.

This week, the government announced a $5.8 million outlay to rehabilitate five wells in the capital of Kingston, complete 22 rural water-supply projects and pay for water trucks to deliver water in parched areas for the next six months. It also will launch a publicity campaign promoting conservation. Water and Housing Minister Horace Chang said hospitals will receive priority assistance, followed by schools, three of which closed for a day this week.

The island’s east and south have been hit hardest by the drought, which intensified after a mild hurricane season and a lack of heavy rains during the traditionally wet months of September and October, said Sylvia McGill, senior state meteorologist. The drought likely will extend into March, when the dry season ends, she said.

Sere conditions have stalled sugarcane production, prompted the government to ration water supply and disrupted service at one of Jamaica’s main hospitals, the University Hospital of the West Indies. With one main reservoir at 54 percent capacity, residents in dozens of neighborhoods are dealing with nighttime restrictions. “I am praying for rain, lots of it,” said Jasmin Turner, a Kingston resident who says she cannot properly clean, wash or cook.

In 2006, the government spent nearly half a million dollars to battle another severe drought that killed cattle, withered crops and sparked numerous brush fires.

For the original report go to http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1129879&lang=eng_news

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