Great news on the environmental front is a little hard to come by, these days. But this is a terrific success story and an example of a fruitful and effective partnership between the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and local citizens. Congratulations to all those involved in this long and hard process; and since maintenance is always an issue, we hope the National Water Commission will play its part in this respect. Here is JET’s press release, dated September 16:
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and the Harbour View Citizens Association are pleased to announce the substantial completion of a new sewage treatment plant for the community. The construction of all phases took five years to complete. Members of the community and JET regularly toured the facility during construction, following a court order to build a new plant for Harbour View. On Friday, August 28th, a tour guided by the National Water Commission revealed a modern, efficient sewage facility to replace the old plant which had not worked in over 20 years and discharged untreated sewage into the sea and Kingston Harbour.
“We are really grateful to JET,” said Carol Lawton, community member, and one of those who joined JET in the lawsuit. “So many people from Harbour View tried over such a long time to get the plant fixed, without any success. Seems like it was only legal action that made the difference.”
The Harbour View Sewage Treatment plant was built in the 1970s, as part of the development of that community. The design was not appropriate for the harsh conditions of the site and the plant broke down frequently, eventually ceasing to function in the 1980s.
“The Harbour View sewage plant was one of the first places I visited, when I became interested in environmental issues back in 1990,” said Diana McCaulay, JET’s CEO. “I remember standing there and watching the untreated sewage flow over the beach and into the sea and thinking – this is not acceptable. So after all these years, it is a good moment to see a new plant at Harbour View.”
Consulting engineer for the project, Maurice Jones of Fluid Systems Engineering Ltd., described the plant: “The treatment processes are mainly natural, with low or no energy inputs and very little mechanization, including ponds, a trickling filter and reed beds. The only aspect outstanding is the disinfection facility.”
Mr. Jones believes the design of the plant gives the NWC a realistic chance of successful operation and maintenance, although he cautions that consistent maintenance will still be required. He notes the location of the plant was not ideal, due to the threat of sea level rise, but there was no choice. A substantial protective wall has been built, but there is still a risk of damage to the facility from a storm.
Although there will be no further tours of the facility for the community or JET, as the requirements of the court order have been met, JET has written to write to the NWC President to request voluntary guided visits every six months, to ensure the plant continues to be maintained. JET also believes there should be an early community meeting to advise a larger number of residents about the various features of the plant and what they can expect.
The NWC has spent over JA$750 million on the Harbour View Sewage treatment Plant over the past five years. “The Harbour View community also has its role to play,” said Mr. Walters. “One area that is of great concern to the NWC is the extent of connecting of drains to the sewers. This introduces large quantities of gravel and sand to the sewers and very high flows to the plant during periods of heavy rainfall that cannot be effectively treated.”
The 2010 court order stated that the National Water Commission, the National Environment and Planning Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority had failed to perform their statutory duties in respect of the Harbour View Sewage Treatment Plant.
Jamaica Environment Trust
Harbour view community
Corporate Public Relations Manager
Chief Executive Officer
Jamaica Environment Trust
123 Constant Spring Road
T| (876) 960-3693