Berbice sea defence being breached for fish ponds
-- says Chief Sea and River Defence Officer

by Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
January 17, 2000

CHIEF Sea and River Defence Officer, Mr George Howard says he suspects that the repeated failure of a section of earthen sea defence at Number 19 Village, in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) may be caused by persons unknown cutting the earthen dam to allow water into their fish ponds.

He told the Chronicle yesterday that the problem is a recurrent one, as every year the Ministry has to spend huge sums of money to effect repairs to breaches in the area.

The latest occurrence was during the spring tide last week and Howard said officials in the Region have been alerted in an effort to nab the culprits.

Howard said the country's fragile sea defences continue to pose problems for officials, who are making every effort to keep the sea out.

He noted that some 24 kilometres of sea defences can be described as "extremely critical", adding that efforts are being made to effect repairs to some areas this year.

Yesterday he reported, too, that employees in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), following a report by a resident, last week detected two areas where the sea defence at Capoey is being undermined.

Project Engineer in the Region, Mr Patiram Ramlall when contacted confirmed that approximately 20 feet of sea defence is being affected and that remedial works have commenced.

He said the recent neap tide and heavy rains further compounded the situation.

Ramlall explained that because the defence consists of a concrete shoulder, the total extent of the cavity cannot be immediately determined.

In the circumstance, the possibility exists that as the workers proceed they may need to break additional sections.

The remedial works entail sealing of the area with sand bags.

The Capoey area, Howard said, has been identified for the execution of permanent works in the upcoming financial agreement with the European Union (EU).

Last week too, sea defence failures took place at Cornelia Ida and Hague on the West Coast Demerara (WCD) in Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands).

At Cornelia Ida, the SRD Chief said some 50 feet of the wave wall collapsed and emergency works were carried out. These entailed heightening the dam and placing filter fabric above it to prevent seepage.

He added that next week, a "small" contract will be awarded for Baracara Quarries to supply rocks, to be placed on the seaward side of the concrete slope.

And in the meantime, the Ministry is seeking funding to construct about 300 metres of permanent works `rip rap design, in the area, before the end of the year.

At Hague, Howard said, about 30 feet of concrete slope failed, causing water to seep under the wave wall, and workers were forced to place boulders as part of the remedial work.

The SRD top official disclosed that he would have revisited the area yesterday afternoon.

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