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Bill to enhance water quality and use passed

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Thursday, February 3, 2005 - A Bill seeking to reconcile a number of key elements in the supply and use of water on the island was passed on Tuesday, February 1 in the first sitting of the House of Assembly for 2005.

The Bill came on the heels of the Prime Minister’s New Year’s Address in which he cited water as a major priority for his Government in 2005.

The Water and Sewage Bill, which replaces the Water and Sewage Act of 1999, came after a long and comprehensive process of national consultation, during which a national water policy was formulated. The bill looked at issues of quality of service and the protection and management of the resource base, attracting private sector investment.

Addressing the Speaker of the House, Minister for Public Utilities, Hon Felix Finisterre said, “It looks to, of course, give certain regulatory certainty so that the persons, who invest their money could be ensured of a fair return on their investment. Also, it looks at protecting the right and the needs of the socially vulnerable and poorest of our society; so no one is going to be left behind.”

The Bill also gives the State rights to rivers and ravines, thereby protecting the resource from harmful agents. It also makes provisions for the establishment of a Water Resource Management Agency to be located within the Ministry of Agriculture. The Agency would advise the Ministry on several issues including the consideration of application licences and permits for use of water in water controlled areas.

“The water resources management Agency is expected to assume and continue to perform the functions of the Water Resources Unit, among others, whose activities were funded by the European Union, under the Stabex Funds and the Government of St. Lucia. This project will eventually close on the 31st of March 2005”, the Minister informed.

The Bill was facilitated and directed under the terms of the 5th Water Reform Project, initiated by Government, and funded by the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.

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