Mar 16, 2011 News
– Waters being released into Mahaica Creek
Authorities yesterday started pumping excess water in the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Mahaica Creek area after levels rose alarmingly during the last few days.
Yesterday, government described the move as a last resort and said that the release was being done in a controlled manner.
The conservancy dam is the main line of defence between thousands of residents on the coast and the expanse of water known as the EDWC.
The decision to release water would have both government and residents, especially on the East Coast of Demerara, tense with memories still fresh of the 2005 floods, which devastated the livelihoods of thousands and severely tested the country’s disaster preparedness.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture disclosed that due to continuous rainfall resulting from the La Niña weather phenomenon, the EDWC reached “a threatening level and still rising”.
Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud, also made a number of late afternoon visits to several sections of the East Coast Demerara to assess the situation.
“As a last resort, the Commission of EDWC has taken the decision to have controlled release of water through the Mahaica Creek via the Maduni and Lama outlets. Water will be released via the Lama and Maduni Sluices at low tides commencing at 16:00 hrs today (yesterday),” the Ministry said.
The stability of the EDWC has been a stated major concern for government for a number of years, especially after the 2005 flooding. Releasing waters into the Mahaica Creek has been blamed for flooding of several riverain communities and their farmlands. Already, residents of Joe Hook and Grass Hook, located in the upper reaches of the Mahaica River, have been relocated.
With the tides allowing only a few hours for water to be drained from the EDWC to the Demerara River, it is literally a race to get rid of the water which is threatening to overtop, drainage officials told Kaieteur News.
According to the Ministry, excess water, from the start of La Niña last year, was being released from the EDWC into the Demerara River via the five-door sluice at Land of Canaan and outlets at Kofi and Cunha Sluices.
“The EDWC Commission is urging that all precautions be undertaken to ensure that the discharge of water did not acutely aggravate an already rising Mahaica Creek, due to the historic level of rainfall along the coast and in the upper reaches which flow into the various creeks and rivers.”
The Ministry stressed that ongoing construction of the EDWC Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour, when completed, will prevent the use of Lama and Maduni, reducing the threat to communities.
“In addition, residents in the upper reaches of the Mahaica and Mahaicony Creeks are advised to be on the alert and to take necessary precautions, with the impending release of water to prevent any pressure on the dam.”
The Ministry said that the Civil Defence Commission, the emergency response arm of the government, has been informed of “this critical decision”.
As of yesterday, the average level of the EDWC was 57.8 GD, just above the full supply level of 57.5 GD. The height of the Conservancy Dam is 59 GD.
While the rainy season has ended officially, the current showers are part of the La Niña phenomenon, authorities have said.
Rains have affected rice harvesting, with the Ministry last week saying that only a fraction has been reaped. The conditions of the access dams remain a major worry for farmers.
In Region Two, the Ministry said that pumps are operable at Charity, Andrews, Perth, Lima, Anna Regina and Cozier and breaches have been sealed at the Golden Fleece Conservancy as well as Coffer Dam.
Community workers have been assisting with placing sand bags at overtopped areas including Zorg-en-Veldt and Anna Regina. A machine has sealed a breach at Unu Creek which also suffered from overtopping. At Queenstown, sand bags were placed to stop overtopping and a machine heightened the embankment in the area.
In Region Three, dredging equipment was deployed to Den Amstel and an irrigator pump was deployed to Patentia and Blankenburg.
In Region Four, pumps were deployed and installed at Farm, Herstelling, Jimbo Bridge, Little Diamond and Peters Hall, on the East Bank of Demerara.
“Pumps are operable at Annandale and Lusignan and the NDIA’s CDIP workers are assisting in clearing internal canals at Grove on the East Bank of Demerara,” the Ministry said.
Pumps were also installed at Hand En Veldt, Mahaica, Buxton and Cane Grove, Helena, while an irrigator has been deployed to Paradise/Foulis.
GuySuCo has installed additional pumps at Montrose and an irrigator at Strathspey.
In Region Five, dredging equipment is undertaking work at the Abary Creek mouth and farmers will receive fuel from the Ministry to assist with pumping, while in Region Six, a pump has been deployed to No.19 and an excavator was deployed to Sheet Anchor along with a mobile pump.
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