The first organized programme for the systematic collection of streamflow data was initiated by the Water Resources Section of the Public Works Department in 1954.The Water Resources Division was established in 1965, when the Water Resources Section was transferred to the Geological Survey Department in connection with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) project which was completed in 1973.On completion of the UNDP/FAO project, the Water Resources Division of the Ministry of Mining and natural Resources continued to monitor surface and groundwater islandwide. Between 1979 and 1984, the water Resources Division was transferred to the Ministries of Local Government, Agriculture, and Public Utilities.
In 1985, the Water Resources Division was merged into the Underground Water Authority (UWA). The mandate of the UWA was contained in the Underground Water Control Act (1959). The responsibility for the preparation of a national water resources development plan was assigned to the UWA in 1985.In 1993, the UWA was transferred to the Ministry of Water and Transport.The Water Resources Authority (WRA), formerly known as the Underground Water Authority, is a statutory body of the Government of Jamaica. The WRA was established by the Water Resources Act of 1995 which repealed the Underground Water Control Act and the Water Act. The WRA therefore replaced the Underground Water Authority as Jamaica's premiere hydrologic agency.
The WRA is presently operating within the portfolio of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. The WRA is responsible for the management, protection, and controlled allocation and use of Jamaica's surface and underground water resources. This responsibility will be achieved through the development and administration of a long term comprehensive Water Resources Development Master Plan for Jamaica. This plan will enable rational decision making on current and future water use and allocation which provides economic and environmentally sound development options.
In January 1999, the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Water, prepared and adopted a Water Sector Policy. This policy outlines the current situation and problems within the water sector, defines the objectives of the Government to address the issues, and sets out the mode of implementation. To ensure that the policy is implemented effectively, the Government has mandated the water agencies to prepare a Water Sector Strategy. This Strategy will indicate how the policies are to be implemented, and will ensure an integrated and coordinated approach between all the agencies.