Residents of communities surrounding the Bog Walk Gorge in St. Catherine will benefit from an upgraded Rio Cobre Early Warning System, which will assist in the management of potential water-related disasters.
The Caribbean Development Bank provided grant funding of JA$34 million for upgrade of the system, which was established by the Water Resources Authority.
The upgraded system, which is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, will now feature five streamflow stations and six intensity rain gauges. It also has technology best suited for Jamaica’s terrain and weather conditions.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Pearnel Charles, said the system will give timely and accurate measurements and warnings to reduce the loss of life and damage caused by flooding, which is estimated at approximately $112 billion.
The new system, unlike its predecessor that relied on satellite, will utilise Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) technology, allowing for real-time data transmission.
“It is not affected by either the terrain or weather conditions that used to obliterate the satellite, which is evidenced by its usage over the last 12 months,” Senator Charles said.
“We are using the most robust of the technologies to protect our people here in Jamaica; we are [now] better positioned to confront an uncertain future.”
Senator Charles, who was speaking at the launch of the new warning system in Bog Walk on April 29, said the Government intends to install other automated early warning systems in other places throughout the island to create a safe environment for all.
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Howard Glaze, said the continued development of early warning systems is a priority for his agency.
He noted that there are other places in St. Catherine where such system could be implemented to reduce damage and loss of life.
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central, Natalie Neita, in the meantime, said the system is important for persons using the Bog Walk Gorge, adding that its usage should be taught to residents.
During the launch, 15 community members received plaques for their contribution to the early warning system.
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