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Combating Drought: Do you have enough water stored?


With the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) forecast of drought to grip the island over the next three months, Director Ronald Jackson has urged Jamaicans to start conserving water.

“Typically, every January we are faced with the beginning of a dry spell in our country, which is usually what we call the primary dry period. We are asking the public that even before the Met Office (Meteorological Service) declares a drought that they begin to practise certain mitigation measures and also preparedness measures, well in advance of such a declaration, because we are trying to promote a culture of prevention and readiness,” said Jackson.

Increased incidence of drought and lengthy seasons of water scarcity have seen Jamaicans investing in more permanent water storage systems for their homes and businesses. Water systems, from tanks to pumps have gained popularity because of their convenience, affordability as well as capacity range. However, how can consumers determine the best water system to purchase for their homes or businesses?

What is included in a water system?

Typically a complete water system will include a water storage tank; a pump to transfer the water from the storage unit to the tap and a pressure tank to maintain a consistent flow of water to the tap.

How much water do you need to store?

When buying a tank, the first things you should determine are how much water you need and your intended use for the stored water i.e. domestic, agricultural. “When purchasing tanks, you must first assess how much water you need to store to cover your needs” said Locksley Waller, Technical Operations Manager at Appliance Traders Limited, Jamaica’s chief retailer of domestic and special order tanks. “The average person uses up to 80-100 gallons of water per day including flushing the toilet, showering, hand-washing and cooking so you have to calculate tank capacity on a per person basis. If for instance there are four people in your household, you would need to store 400 gallons of water per day. If the tank is to be used for agricultural purposes, the same rule applies whereas you would have to determine the volume of water needed for crops, livestock and store accordingly,” he said.

What are the different kinds of tanks and where will you store it?

Tanks come in a variety of sizes and materials including plastic (polyethylene, polypropylene), fiberglass, concrete, stone and steel, with the most common domestic option being plastic ” explains Waller. The intended location of the tank (indoors, outdoors, above ground or underground) also play a big part in its colour and construction characteristics.

Will I need any additional equipment to get my system going?

In addition to the tank, ATL’s Waller also recommends completing your system with a pressure tank and electrical pump to ensure consistent flow.  “Pumps such as DAB will help to transfer the water from the tank towards the taps whereas pressure tanks will help to maintain a steady ‘pressurized’ flow while reducing the number of starts the pump makes, conserving energy in the process. The size of the pump and pressure tank that will be required is dependent on the number of persons in the household and also the height to which the water has to be pumped

Will the pump affect my electricity bill?

The more frequently your pump starts is the more power it will consume.  A larger pump will also generally consume more electricity, “ATL carries the ‘Active Driver’ – an inverter energy saving controller that will allow your pump to run only at the speed necessary to satisfy your flow requirement. This device allows your system to operate at a constant pressure regardless of the flow demand by varying the speed of the pump motor to match the demand. This user friendly interface enhances comfort, runs silently, eliminates over pressurization, extends pump life, allows trouble free installations and is compatible with a large range of pump types” said Waller.

How long can water be stored?

If stored properly, water can be saved for approximately 24 months providing the tank remains airtight. By design a water tank/container should do no harm to the water said Waller. Water is susceptible to a number of ambient negative influences, including bacteria, viruses, algae, changes in pH, and accumulation of minerals, accumulated gas. A correctly designed water tank works to address and mitigate these negative effects.

Drought is one of the most costly natural disasters and accounted for over 30 per cent crop loss in Trelawny last April and so in addition to storing water in tanks, Waller also recommends having gallon bottles stored. “There is no such thing as saving too much water in preparation for a steely drought season so persons should also ensure they have gallon bottles on hand. Allocate one gallon of water per person per day. That means if you have three people in your family, you should allocate three gallons per day.”

Basic Pump (DAB 0 .6 HP) and Tank (400 gallon) are available at ATL starting at $39,000.

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