Bad engineering decisions may be responsible for breach in dam
Stabroek News
November 7, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to your reports (4 & 5 Nov.,200l) on the breach in the conservancy dam at cane Grove.

Injudicious engineering decisions to raise the conservancy dam may be responsible for the present dilemma. How the work was carried out may have also been a contributing factor.

When the raising of the dam was first proposed sometime ago, I wrote a letter which was published in SN advising against doing so, since the foundation of the dam was very weak and consists mostly of pegasse.The specifications and geotechnical investigations for the project should be carefully reviewed by an experienced engineer. The design calculations for the dam should also be checked for stability .

I recall the breach in 1968 mentioned in your article. Myself and other engineers as well as workers from the sea defence force account under my control at that time sealed the breach. The breach in 1968, however, is different from the one today. The breach last Sunday was in my opinion, caused by interfering with the dam in the first place.

Over the last few years there have numerous engineering failures in Guyana. It is not easy to design or construct on Guyana's soft clay. The presence of pegasse is even more challenging.

Engineers of today have to adapt to the conditions and come up with solutions to the various engineering problems if Guyana is to survive living on the low lying coastlands.

Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Alli