M&CC prepares for rainy season – City Engineer
- Despite continuance of callous dumping
Some citizens are making it very difficult for the municipality to maintain the integrity of the city’s drainage system, said Mayor Hamilton Green, when he hosted a media tour around Georgetown yesterday.
The media was taken to several sites around the city which revealed callous littering and wanton blockage of alleyways and a number of drains, which according to Mayor Green continues despite repeated calls for residents to desist from such practices.
The tour around the city was prompted by reports which suggested that the municipality was unprepared for the recent downpour which left several sections of the city inundated.
Among the areas visited were the alleyways and canals around the city that were being cleared yesterday and several outfall channels.
According to City Engineer, Gregory Erksine, the municipality had commenced its drainage programme for this year in the month of January and had proposed to clear approximately 300 miles of drainage in terms of alleyways and drains. However, due to its financial state the municipality has to date only been able to clear about 16 miles. “The cost of clearing and maintaining one mile of drain is approximately $1M. Equipment and manual labour is factored into this cost,” Erskine asserted.
Nonetheless, he confidently noted that the city is ready to deal with the rainy season, adding that “on a scale of one to 10 we are at eight now. We are ready because if you were to look at the last accumulation, within 12 hours once the kokers were opened, the water receded. “
Mayor Green, in offering a historic background of the city’s drainage system, dispelled reports that the city has been struggling with a flooding situation.
He explained that in the case of Georgetown, with rainfall lasting for over a 24-hour period, at least two inches of water is likely to accumulate, even with ideal conditions in place.
“Even with all the pumps working and the sluices open there will be the retention of water in Georgetown. This will be worsened if that rainfall occurs as it will for 24 hours when there is high tide in the Demerara River.”
He highlighted that given the municipality’s level of preparedness it is evident that water has been draining quite rapidly.
However, Mayor Green lamented the fact that water remains in some communities in the city because of indiscipline on the part of residents. This, he said, includes the blockage of roads, canals and waterways by building materials, styrofoam and a general lack of appreciation of the harm that these materials can do to the drainage system.
“At the Liliendaal pump which is now functioning at maximum capacity, thanks to the intervention by government, the main grill to the south of the public road was damaged because people threw all sorts of unmentionables and the fact that the pump to the north was pulling the water it placed a strain on the grill and caused it to break.”
I visited there on Sunday afternoon, I found bottles, both glass and plastic, bits of furniture, all of which ended up at the grill and created the condition.”
However, the baseline, according to the Mayor, is that Georgetown is below sea level, thus is prone to such watery dilemmas. As such, he warned that even with the ideal conditions, unless the outfall channels are cleared, it will compromise the rate at which the water runs off. However, the Mayor noted that he has been informed that this task is being duly undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works.
According to Public Relations Officer, Royston King, consistent with the municipality’s statutory responsibility and available resources, “we have an ongoing programme of desilting canals, maintaining pumps and works related to securing the integrity of our drainage system.”
He emphasised that drainage is a high priority for the council even as he acknowledged that there are a number of challenges facing the municipality in fulfilling its mandate. Primary among these, he noted, is the dumping of waste in the system. Another issue he highlighted is the accumulation of silt at the outfalls, in addition to the fact that the landscape of the city has drastically changed over the years.
The municipality, as a result, King said, is appealing to citizens to form themselves into a community development group which could assist the sustainability of any exercise or activity to help keep the city clean.