Regional committees set up to manage water
Stabroek News
January 10, 2002

Agriculture Minister Navin Chandarpal has emphasised the need to achieve planned agricultural production targets and to ensure that the water needs of different users are fully met through suitable strategies in view of the current spell of dry weather.

According to a release from the Agriculture Ministry, Chandarpal convened a meeting on Monday with a number of stakeholders and agencies to discuss the prevailing and likely weather conditions and their impact on water availability to meet the needs of the different sectors.

The meeting agreed to establish regional teams headed by the respective chairmen to deal with the issue of water management in view of the projected extended dry weather.

Among those invited to the meeting were officials of Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam); Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands); Four (Demerara/Mahaica); Five (Mahaica/West Berbice); Six (East Berbice/Corentyne. Others were from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the Rice Producers' Association (RPA), the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC), the Guyana Water Authority (GUYWA) and the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA).

The release said that Chief Hydrometereological Officer, Dilip Jaigopaul informed the meeting that from now to May, substantially reduced rainfall was expected. After discussing various options the meeting arrived at an approach to be implemented at the central and regional levels to combat the adverse conditions and ensure adequate irrigation supplies. These include detailed water conservation, judicious use of water, augmentation of conservancy storage, river pumping, full utilisation of pumping capacities, public awareness, monitoring and coordination.

The regional teams would include stakeholder agencies in the regions such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (NDIB), the GRDB, RPA, GUYSUCO, conservancies, and the MMA/ADA. These teams will be coordinated at the central level by the Agriculture Ministry with representation from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

The ministry advised that sea sluices should remain closed to conserve water. And GUYSUCO indicated that it was practising water conservation through re-circulation and urged that others do the same.

The release noted that the NDIB had 14 mobile water pumps, three of which were located in Region Two, one in Region Three, four in Region Four, one in Region Five and five in Region Six. Five more mobile water pumps are being procured. Efforts, the ministry said, would be instituted so that the fixed pumps remained in working order. These pumps would be appropriately utilised for augmenting the irrigation supplies.

Giving a background to water systems in Guyana on which agricultural development was dependent, the release said that the D&I systems controlled the flow of water in the rivers and creeks so that in rainy seasons water was disposed of to the sea and rivers as necessary or stored where conservancies are available. The main conservancies are Ituribisi, Tapakuma, Capoey and Mainstay in Region Two; Boerasirie in Region Three; East Demerara in Region Four and Abary in Region Five.

If there was insufficient rain for the conservancies to store enough water to meet the irrigation needs of the dry season, there might be a decrease in agricultural production, the ministry noted. Likewise, it said that low rainfall could lessen the flow in rivers and increase stretches of rivers under the influence of tidal salinity. Water with high salinity cannot be used for crop irrigation and there may be a shortfall of irrigation water available due to pumping from rivers. In the dry season water is taken for irrigation purposes from the conservancies or from the non-tidal reaches of rivers.

The irrigation in the Mahaica/Mahaicony area depends on the flow of the respective rivers and the Essequibo Islands are fully dependent on rainfall.

Agricultural production in Region Six is served by water pumped from the Canje River and conveyed to the point of use by a network of canal systems. The flow of the Canje River is supplemented by diversion of the Berbice River via the Torani Canal. The Canje water level is maintained at an appropriate level to provide fresh water at the Black Bush and Manarabisi pumping points by diversion of adequate water from the Berbice River at the Torani Head.