Rainfall eases water woes
By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
May 1, 2003

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Significant rainfall in the coastal regions over the past week has brought some relief to the water woes being faced by many communities across the country because of the unusually long dry spell, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon said.

Speaking at his weekly news conference, Dr. Luncheon informed the media that Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta who is heading the Select Committee appointed by Cabinet to monitor and assess the impact of the unusually long dry season in all ten administrative regions, reported to Cabinet that there has been significant rainfall in Regions 1-6 and is an indication that the drought may be coming to an end.

The HPS said there has also been significant rainfall in the hinterland regions, however, he pointed out that there has been continued penetration of salt water into surface water indicating that there is still an imbalance between rainfall and surface water, particularly in Regions 2 and 5.

He noted that the advent of the May/June rains will help to replenish surface water, thus making more potable water as well as water for agricultural purpose available.

“Minister Nokta who heads the Select Cabinet Committee monitoring and reporting on conditions in the ten administrative regions disclosed that the May/June rains have started,” the HPS said. He added: “The significant rainfall in Regions 1-6, indeed has been a sign of what hopefully would be the end of the drought conditions that prevailed along the coast. The minister reported also that in the hinterland regions `significant rainfall also occurred. Notwithstanding the rainfall reports were tendered there was continued penetration of salt water into the riverain system, particularly in Regions 2 and 5, and that of course was an indication of still an imbalance between the seasonal rainfall and the volumes of surface water.”

Touching on the issue of assistance by the Government to farmers who have suffered losses as a result of “flash fires” caused by the dry season, particularly in Regions 2, 3 and 4 where pagasse soils are prevalent, Dr. Luncheon said that the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in conjunction with the regional administrations are working towards the assessing of the impact to allow for decisions to be made on assistance. He however gave the assurance that the situation is manageable and is within the purview of the regional administrations, but Central Government will intervene if there is such need.

The HPS observed that particularly rice farmers have had to delay the sowing of their crops because of the lack of adequate surface water.

There has always been a commitment by the administration to provide support and assistance to these communities. A lot of it depends, of course, on the capabilities first of the regional system and then of Central Government, said Dr. Luncheon, adding that one expects that the Ministry of Local Government in conjunction with the respective regional administrations - 2, 3 and 4, will be working to do the assessment of what has happened or is happening on the ground allowing decisions to be made both by the regional administrations and central Government with what is the nature of the impact and what help can be targeted to these communities.

Meanwhile, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) spokesman, Javin Singh told the Chronicle that despite the recent rainfall the water level in the Lamaha Canal remains extremely low, actually the lowest in forty years for the same period.

Singh noted that the situation is critical because 60% of the potable water supplied to Georgetown is sourced from the Lamaha Canal. Consequently, he said pumping hours have been reduced to conserve on water, and GWI is appealing to consumers to use water carefully and report promptly any breakage or leakage along water mains.

He pointed out that the remaining 40% of water is being supplied from artesian wells and a number of these wells have been resuscitated by GWI to satisfy the demand for potable water.

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