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4 minutes read

Ground Broken for US$77m Water Treatment Plant in Rio Corbre, Jamica

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (March 14), broke ground for the Rio Cobre Water Treatment Plant in Content, St. Catherine.

The project is valued at US$77 million or J$12 billion.

The plant, to be built at a cost of US$77 million (J$12 billion), is expected to be the second largest in Jamaica.

It will be able to transfer 15 million gallons of water to benefit approximately 150,000 customers or approximately 600,000 residents in Kingston and St. Andrew, Spanish Town and Portmore.

Construction is slated to be completed in two years and will be managed through a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement between the National Water Commission (NWC) and Rio Cobre Water Limited.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Holness said the scope of the works will entail the construction of an intake system, inclusive of lift and backup pumps; the construction of a conveyance pipeline from the river to the treatment plant site; the construction of a 15-million-gallon capacity treatment plant and interconnections to the NWC’s distribution network.

“When the project is complete, we can expect improved water supply and reliability for St. Catherine and the Kingston and St. Andrew (KSA) areas, better resilience in the water sector during periods of drought and improved water supply to facilitate our continued development in the business and residential sectors,” he added.

The Prime Minister noted that during the worst period of the drought last year, the supply shortfall for the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) was 12.5 million gallons daily, adding that when the additional 15 million gallons per day comes on stream from the project, that supply will be totally covered, plus a surplus.

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“But with worsening climate change, we have to continue to build even more capacity to ensure that we have enough buffers,” Mr. Holness said.

At the project’s completion, there will be a 23-year period of the plant’s operation by the private partners, after which ownership of the facility will be transferred to the NWC.

The PPP arrangement may also be renewed for an additional five years after the expiration of the initial 23 years.

Prime Minister Holness further stated that the treatment plant will reduce the need for the trucking of water and lessen, if not eliminate, the need for water restrictions to affected areas during periods of drought.

“This is a win for the NWC, its customers and for all Jamaica,” he emphasised.

Mr. Holness also informed that the Forest Hills Distribution Network upgrade will be undertaken in parallel with the Rio Cobre Water Treatment Plant to ensure benefits to the people of West Rural St. Andrew, including Red Hills to Cooper’s Hill, which have faced chronic water issues.

He also mentioned the Marescaux Road Wells rehabilitation project, which will be commissioned shortly.

“This combination of project investments will ensure that we will be well on our way to achieving water resilience in the Kingston and St. Andrew Metropolitan Area, Portmore and St. Catherine, prior to 2030. This will also diversify our resources and reduce reliance on the Hermitage dam and the Mona Reservoir,” Prime Minister Holness said.

For his part, Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, said the project was long in coming.

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“If we acknowledge and feel the heat in March, not yet summer, it is representative of the fact that our climate is changing and our weather patterns are shifting, and it speaks to the absolute critical nature of this project,” Mr. Samuda said.

He noted that from October 2022 to March 2023, Jamaica experienced its worst drought ever, adding that in the height of that, the KSA received eight per cent of its 30-year average rainfall.

“So, it speaks to the fact that this project is indeed absolutely critical. During that drought, Kingston and St. Andrew was short 12½ million gallons daily. This project will add 15 million gallons to the system to assist in distributing water for Portmore and KSA,” Mr. Samuda said.

Meanwhile, Country Manager of Vinci Construction Grands Projects and Director of Rio Cobre Water Limited, Timothée Delebarre, said the nature of the project demonstrates a collaboration between public and private sector.

“We believe that this project should be a cornerstone of an economic model in Jamaica, whereby the Government and the private sector… work hand in hand in developing the country’s infrastructure,” Mr. Delebarre stated.

For his part, NWC Chairman, Michael Shaw, said the Rio Cobre Water Treatment Plant forms a critical part of the Commission’s strategic plan, which is to improve and maintain the water supply to the greater Spanish Town area, Portmore and the Corporate Area.

“When completed and delivering water to the NWC’s network, it will contribute significantly to NWC achieving three of the four strategic objectives. They are improving coverage, revenue and cashflow, increasing operational efficiencies and improving customer service,” Mr. Shaw stated.

Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central, Natalie Neita Garvey, and NWC Vice President, Glaister Cunningham, also spoke during the ceremony.

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