Monday 21 October, 2019

NWC to benefit from new satellite mapping with underground water sites

The state-owned National Water Commission (NWC) could soon be in possession of maps that show the precise locations of where significant volumes of water are being held underground, according to Robert Montague, the Minister of Transport and Mining.

Montague told the House of Representatives during his recent contribution to the 2019-2020 Sectoral Debate that this is being facilitated through a partnership with Geophysx Jamaica Limited, a mining company that is owned by Robert Stewart.

Montague said the company is spearheading the updating of Jamaica’s geological maps “so when new investors come to search for minerals, they do not have to reinvent the wheel”.

But the work has resulted in more than just the identification of mineral deposits, he indicated.

“Mr Stewart recently handed to me a digitally-generated map of Jamaica, done by satellite, showing where water is being held underground. This map will be forwarded to the National Water Commission,” Montage told the House.

Robert Montague

He said the use of the satellite technology by Stewart came as a result of his duty to his country.

“He simply wanted to help us in this water crisis. The same methods used to seek minerals, should be able to locate water. He accepted the challenge, and the maps are ready at no cost to the people of Jamaica,” Montague said.

Meanwhile, the minister also indicated that the Quarry Advisory Committee has proposed to the NWC, a programme of desilting the Hermitage Dam and selling the silted material.

“This would not cost the NWC and taxpayers anything. The NWC is assessing the proposal,” said Montague.

Several plans have been announced over the years to desilt the Hermitage Dam, but none have come to fruition. The latest proposal should have seen the removal of hundreds of truckloads of silt, beginning in 2014, but that work did not get off the ground.

Some estimates are that close to 50 per cent of the dam’s capacity is taken up by silt. The 2014 desilting programme would have seen some 400 truckloads of silt removed from the dam in the initial phase, according to reports.

At the end of April, the 400-million-gallon capacity dam which sits on the Wag Water River, was at some 30 per cent of its capacity, as the country remains in the grip of one of its worst dry spells in recent times.

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