When Senator Pearnel Charles Jr was assigned the water portfolio I held my breath and waited for good news. He is an attorney by profession, but let’s not hold that against him. I see him as one of the Renaissance men in this Administration, and fully expected him to drag this sorry department scratching and kicking into the 21st century.

Jamaica has an abundance of hydrologic resources. There should be more than enough to meet local demand. The first problem is that it does not always rain where we want it to and when we want it to. Then, like rice, sugar cane and bananas are thirsty plants, and our immigration strategies are woefully inefficient.

We are heavily dependent on ground water, an increasing amount of which is being contaminated by the bauxite-alumina industry. When we hear of deforestation, everybody’s minds run to coal-burning and the clearing of land; nobody talks of the harvesting of yam sticks and its impact on deforestation. But a 2003 study by Barker and Beckford revealed that some 63 million yam sticks are harvested each year. This has a huge impact on the maintenance of forests. The sticks used for fish pots have never been quantified.