Drought conditions in Jamaica expected to get worse – minister

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday July 21, 2014, CMC – Water Minister, Robert Pickersgill has warned the country to brace for worsening drought conditions as the dry spell continues.

In an address to the nation late Sunday, Pickersgill said the inflows into several large reservoirs were well below normal and the country did not receive the amount of rainfall for the usually wet months of May and June.

“Fellow Jamaicans, this is a challenge, and it is one that is made worse by higher temperatures and windy conditions, that provide the perfect combination for bush fires, which, given the present water shortage, will be difficult to control and extinguish,” said Pickersgill.

He noted that rural water supply systems, mainly in eastern and southern parishes have been severely affected and based on reports from the National Water Commission (NWC), 120 of the NWC’s 460 systems are affected and some systems operated by parish councils have declined greatly or dried up entirely.

“At the same time, the situation is made even worse because piped water demand has increased by as much as 50% in some locations, since the water is being used for irrigation, fire-fighting, gardening and other purposes for which it was not designed, placing an undue burden on the existing NWC supply.”

He said even more troubling are the meteorological projections.

“The El Nino weather phenomenon that is presently affecting our weather pattern is projected to continue and will result in no significant increase of rainfall even during the next rainy season, which is from October to November.

At the same time, the global prediction is for this year to be the hottest year on record since 1880, when record keeping began. Indeed, the month of May was declared the hottest May on record.

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