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Access A Well

Fresh ground water from wells and springs is an essential resource and a major source of safe (potable) water. Water from springs and wells is used for agricultural, industrial, public, and private purposes, including investment developments.  Ground water constitutes 84 percent of the total available water resources as hundreds of wells are drilled into limestone and alluvial aquifers throughout the country.

The Water Resources Authority (WRA) is mandated by the Water Resources Act (1995) to among other things to “...regulate, allocate, conserve and otherwise manage the water resources of Jamaica.”  Their mission is to ensure the sustainability of Jamaica's water resources through continual assessment and proper management and the Authority allocates Jamaica’s water resources through a permit and licensing system.  In accordance with the Act:

  • “ person shall abstract and use water; or construct or alter or cause to be constructed or altered any works for abstraction and use of water except under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Authority under this Act.”
  • “ person shall sink, construct, enlarge or otherwise alter a well ......unless he has the consent to do so.”

Two (2) of the major activities of the Water Resources Authority (WRA) include:

  • Water resources allocation through licensing of surface and underground water abstractions
  • Authorisations for the drilling and altering of wells

For more information about “accessing a well” see the next step of this business process guideline.

How to access a Well

The Process
Process Quick Tips
  1. The format of the advertisement is set out by the WRA and must be posted at the applicant’s expense. Separate from the advertisement in a local newspaper; the local Post Office closest to the proposed site is asked to display a map of the site along with a copy of the application form, and the public has 21 days to submit objections to the WRA on the granting of a permit/licence.
  1. The WRA may attach special conditions to any permit/licence to facilitate the protection of the resource, public health, prior users or the environment. These conditions may be attached at any time at the discretion of the Authority.

  1. No permit is required to explore for groundwater, however, the WRA requires formal notification of the “intent to drill” and reserves the right to refuse permission to drill an exploratory borehole. The WRA may stipulate the drilling of an exploratory hole to determine lithology and guide well design for wells to be completed in sand and gravel aquifers.  All data from the drilling should be submitted to the Authority for inclusion in its database.

  1. It is the duty of the well driller/pump contractor to ensure that the client holds a valid permit/licence prior to commencing any work.  A WRA representative must be present at the time of the drilling.

  1. If the Authority refuses to grant a permit it will state in writing the reasons for the decision and inform the applicant of his/her right under the Act to appeal the decision.
  2. Any person who objects to a decision of the Authority with respect to the grant of a permit or licence, or to their refusal to grant a permit or licence has the option of appeal. The appeal letter should state the grounds under which the appeal is made and must be submitted for the attention of the Permanent Secretary within fourteen (14) days of the notification of the decision being appealed. The Minister may dismiss the appeal and confirm the decision of the Authority, allow the appeal and set aside the decision, vary the decision or allow the appeal and direct the Authority to re-evaluate the matter being appealed.

  1. All grants and refusals of permits/licences are published in the Jamaica Gazette at the Authority’s expense.

  1. Any permit/licence may be revoked due to contravention of the conditions of the permit/licence.

For more information about accessing a well… visit the WRA.