$2B allocated for Hope Canal in upcoming budget
Some $2B have been allocated in the 2009 Budget for the Conservancy Relief Channel at Hope, East Coast Demerara.
This is according to Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, who, at a recent press conference, stated that whist the relief channel will require $3B to design and construct, $2B have already been allocated in the 2009 Budget for this venture. The other $1B will be included in the 2010 Budget.
The Conservancy Relief Channel is a massive project that requires greater engineering capability than the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority currently possesses, and as such the contract will be given to an overseas company, according to President Jagdeo.
But even as measures are being put in place for the construction of the channel, it will take at least 18 months to complete.
With the current inclement weather, there were reports that the East Demerara Water Conservancy dam was breached in several places.
However, persons living along the coast have been reassured that the conservancy dam is intact.
During a visit to the area on Saturday, the media was given a 23-mile tour of the conservancy aback of Mahaica.
Members of the media were given a first-hand inspection of the EDWC and works currently ongoing to clear waterways and heighten dams.
Secretary of the EDWC, Samuel La Fleur, confirmed during the visit that there were no breaches.
Along with the media, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud and a team from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) were taken on the tour on Saturday.
Minister Persaud, during the visit, explained that even before the rainy season the conservancy level was lowered to facilitate more storage capacity.
Addressing the issue of erosion, the minister said that when the conservancy is full there is no fear of erosion, since the water keeps the dam intact.
The EDWC is a freshwater reservoir located in Region Four, 15 miles south of the most densely populated section of Guyana’s coast.
It is bounded to the north by a 40-mile earthen dam structure, built some 150 years ago by the Dutch; and to the south by the natural topographic rise composed largely of ancient coastal dune formations.
The area consists of a reservoir of approximately 550 hectares and ranges in depth from 12 to approximately 15 feet along the dam.
A series of drainage relief structures were constructed to protect the EDWC dam from overtopping and collapsing during rainy seasons.
Relief canals were constructed from the EDWC westwards towards the Demerara River and northwards towards the Atlantic Ocean.
A network of creeks was also created within the conservancy to conduct water from east to west, in order to increase discharge flows to the Demerara River.
Canals connecting east to the Mahaica River were constructed to conduct water from the river into the conservancy during periods of extreme low water.
Drainage infrastructure within the EDWC is gravity-based.
The maximum safe operating level of the EDWC was about five feet above the peak 1951 sea level, which left a narrow operating window for emergency discharges during heavy rains.
This maximum discharge level has been reduced to within three feet since that time. As the sea level continues to rise and the discharge window continues to shrink, the ability to manage water levels is further compromised.
In 2009, the NDIA is expected to continue with its EDWC rehabilitation programme of works.
At the same time, a US$ 3.8M Conservancy Adaptation Project is currently underway with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank. Under this project, data collection and modelling will be done in order to develop a comprehensive technical foundation for a master plan, which will guide actions to improve the EDWC and lowland drainage systems.
Also, the project will undertake specific upgrading works and operational improvements aimed at enhancing the flood capacity of the EDWC.