The Water Resources Authority (WRA), the premiere entity for the management, protection and controlled allocation and use of Jamaica’s water resources, is reporting a significant improvement in its capacity to fulfil its mandate, thanks to assistance received as part of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).
The WRA maintains a hydrological database and provides data, information and technical assistance to government and non-government institutions. Part of this responsibility includes hydrological forecasting, which involves the estimation of future states of hydrological phenomena, essential for the efficient operation of water infrastructure and the mitigation of natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
As a beneficiary under the PPCR’s Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) funded by the World Bank, the WRA has received a boost in its technical capacity to carry out such assessment and forecasting, through the development of a real time hydro-meteorological monitoring network.
The upgrading of the WRA’s water management infrastructure involves the replacement, upgrading or installation of new stream gauging stations and corresponding equipment as well as the upgrading or installation of new rain gauges. In all, 45 stations are to be covered and to date, 28 of these have been completed, with 24 already providing real time data.
Deputy Managing Director at the WRA, Peter Clarke, acknowledges that the development has led to a significant transformation in the way the entity carries out its operations. He said, “With the assistance of the PPCR, the WRA has upgraded designated stream-flow stations and rain-gauge stations from manual or automatic data-logging systems to more state-of-the-art monitoring and real time transmission from their remote locations. Due to the upgrading of the system, the WRA can now face this and other rainy seasons with a lot more confidence since these upgrades afford more accurate, timely and reliable data management and assessments. This lessens the chance of data loss during weather events and increases the ability to develop and implement flood warning systems and to conduct post flooding assessments in a timely manner. Furthermore, since the system provides continuous 5 minute updates, this facilitates the development of other tools such as Intensity-Duration Frequency Curves that will be useful to other users with hydraulic design considerations such as engineers and forecasters.”
Incorporated into this upgrade will be the outfitting of a control room at the WRA’s offices which will allow for more efficient review of data and communication with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and other emergency management agencies, especially during extreme weather events.
Mr. Clarke further advised that some of the stations have now been incorporated into the WRA’s Early Warning System network. He said, “This will provide greater ease in monitoring rising flood waters, whether with regard to riverine flooding or to depression flooding. Thus, with the improved monitoring of critical areas such as the Bog Walk Gorge, St Catherine and New Market, St Elizabeth, the WRA can collaborate with the ODPEM to speedily trigger processes to protect life and property.”
The WRA staff has also benefited from training in the installation, maintenance and use of the real time data system therefore reducing the need for the engagement of external technical contractors to carry out works after the end of the project.
The ICDIMP is executed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and other partners. It has three main components – the upgrading of hydro-met data collection mechanisms, updating of weather forecasting systems and improving climate resilient planning and hydro-met information services, as well as the implementation of climate change education and awareness programmes.
Other entities which are to benefit under the project include the Meteorological Service Division, the National Spatial Data Management Division and the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
For further information, please contact:
Lehome Johnson l
The Planning Institute of Jamaica l
16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica l
Tel: (876) 935-5049 l