Minister commends measures to minimize Region 3 flooding by Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 7, 2004

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Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock and acting Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh has expressed satisfaction with the ongoing work being done in Region 3 (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) to minimize the effect of floods, which have been caused by recent heavy rainfall.

In a comment to the Chronicle following an inspection of the Boeraserie Conservancy yesterday, Sawh commended the regional administration and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) for the measures they have taken to restrict the impact of flooding in the largely agricultural region.

He said that the visit was part of an ongoing programme over the past week by his Ministry to monitor and get an "on the ground look" of what is happening on the ground since the advent of the unexpected high intensity rainfall, adding that his Ministry would continue to reach out to the communities that have been affected by floods.

The minister also reiterated that his ministry will continue to make all its facilities available to ensure that the impact of the current heavy downpours is reduced to the minimum.

Region 3 Vice-Chairman, Ramenaught Bisram, noted that the drainage is designed to cope with one inch of rainfall per day, however, recently there has been six inches of rainfall daily but because of the proper maintenance of drainage canals and structures the excess water has been discharged quickly resulting in minimal flooding.

He, however, conceded that a few low-lying areas were flooded out but disclosed that the administration is currently taking measures to bring some degree of relief to residents.

The Vice-Chairman also observed that some farmers have been making cuts along dams in effort to drain off water from their lands, this he warned could result in the dams breaking away resulting in serious flooding of farms and GUYSUCO"s canefield creating incalculable hardships. As such he issued an appeal to farmers to desist from this harmful practice.

One such measure he said is the excavation of drainage canals in Harlem, West Coast Demerara.

General Manager of the Uitvlugt/Leonora and Wales Sugar Estates and Chairman of the Boeraserie Water Conservancy Commission, Zalil Gafur assured that ever since the advent of the heavy rainfall inspections of the conservancy dam were made and work began immediately on breaches identified by using indigenous materials like trunks of trees. He disclosed that a few backland areas between Uitvlugt and Boeraserie experienced some levels of flooding and one measure that was taken to ease the situation was the diversion of the excess water through the Leonora outfall into the Atlantic.

Asked if the current situation poses a threat to crops, Gafur replied that it does until all the breaches along the conservancy dam are sealed, adding that work is ongoing at a fast pace and if there is no further heavy rain the sealing can be completed within a week.

He also stated that plans are afoot to clean all the outfalls so as to accelerate the pace of draining off excess water as the water level is about one foot above the normal level of about 61.5 Ground Depth (GD).

Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (NDIB), Ravi Narine, observed that the conservancy level has reached just about its peak yesterday but noted that in about two hours in the absence of any heavy rainfall, the water level decreased appreciably by about six inches. He described this as an optimistic indicator and expressed the view that if the weather holds the level would recede to normal in about two or three days, pointing out that the five-door sluice at Waramina is working at full capacity.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dindial Permaul expressed the need for continued coordination to ensure a proper linkage among the main authorities, which he identified as the Regional Democratic Councils, Neghbourhood Democratic Councils, GUYSUCO and farmers.

This linkage he said would help in providing timely information on the situation on the ground and help to plan for any eventualities that may occur.

The Boeraserie Conservancy which encompasses an area of 156 square miles was constructed in 1953 by the then government in an effort to boost agricultural output, and presently provides irrigation water for 30,000 acres of sugar cane; 25,000 acres of rice cultivation and 15,000-20,000 acres of cash and other crops.