West Berbice flood relief measures in place
- authority assures

by Clifford Stanley
Guyana Chronicle
December 22, 1999

MANAGEMENT of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) is assuring residents of low-lying West Berbice villages that they will not be under water this Christmas.

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Rudolph Gajraj made the commitment yesterday 72 hours after flood waters which had inundated sections in the Union/Naarstigheid Neighbourood area had almost completely receded.

Flood waters attributed to malfunctioning of the MMA sluice at Trafalgar, West Coast Berbice had affected residential areas in Numbers 27, 28, 29 and 30 villages for several days up to Sunday.

Gajraj acknowledged that a massive buildup of mud on the seaward side of the outfall channel was the main reason for the buildup of water in the

residential areas.

He yesterday said that following a package of emergency efforts which included the use of mobile pumps and manual desilting of the outfall sluice on the seaward side, the MMA was fully in control of the situation.

"We now have the outfall channel satisfactorily cleared. We can and are now maximising on the use of the sluice and we have had very good results over the

past seventy-two hours," he said.

He said the authority was in addition, speeding up cleaning the feeder drains to the main drainage canal, the MMA facade drain, to ensure unobstructed flow to sluices including the one at Trafalgar and into the Atlantic.

The authority, he said, is mulling a long-term solution to the recurrent problem at Trafalgar.

"This may involve periodic use of a dredging machine to combat the effects of the natural ebb and buildup of mud in the outfall channel," he said.

"But definitely a mobile pump permanently on stand-by," he added.

Commenting on additional contingency measures, Gajraj said too that the authority was on full alert for further possible adverse effects coming from the current occurrence of the spring tides.

He reminded that today the spring tide is scheduled to be at its highest and advised residents in the low-lying areas to make contingency plans for any temporary problem which may occur as a result of this phenomenon.

Commenting on irrigation for the spring rice crop, he said the authority had in response to the recent drainage problem, shut down the irrigation system.

He said the MMA was sensitive to the plight of farmers now clamouring for irrigation water but the policy at the moment was to manage the irrigation

system to minimise any adverse effects on drainage in the residential areas.

He said the authority will re-open irrigation as soon as it determines that this will not have any adverse effects on the drainage system.

Residents of low-lying areas confirmed that the flood waters had receded completely and the situation was almost back to normal.

Residents had reported last week that the water had been building up around their homes over the past 10 days up to December 14 last, despite the absence of

heavy rainfall.

Then, heavy rainfall last week exacerbated the situation.

As a result their yards were completely covered with water which damaged kitchen gardens, in some instances killed livestock and created general discomfort and caused fears over the undermining of the foundations of their homes.

Some were yesterday afternoon counting losses suffered as a result of the five-day inundation.

Gajraj said the MMA emergency response to the flood had been assisted and complemented with personnel and equipment from the National Drainage and Irrigation Board.

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