Feb 28, 2013 News Comments Off on Hope Canal not on schedule
– $80M more for fuel, repairing machines
The construction of the Hope/DochFour Canal the government is building to help drain water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) is behind schedule, the government said yesterday.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, said that there are delays on specific outputs, but he could not say what those are. The canal is being constructed at a cost of over $3.8 billion.
Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, last December, said that he was concerned that critical aspects of the project may not be completed by the June 2013 deadline.
The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is utilizing its own machinery to dig the canal. On Wednesday, the government approved a further $80 million for fuel and lubricants and to repair and service excavators and other machines.
However, for the NDIA to complete its work, it has to wait for the head regulator and the bridge to be completed. In addition, the sluice, which is being built by Contractor Courtney Benn, has to be constructed.
The NDIA is currently shaping the dam and installing geotextile material in the canal and this is expected to be completed by the June 2013 deadline. BK International is responsible for the construction of the head regulator. The construction of the Public Road Bridge is the responsibility of DIPCON Engineering Services Ltd.
The construction of the High level Outfall Sluice Structure at the Atlantic Ocean end (North of the Hope Secondary School) is the responsibility of Courtney Benn Contracting Services Ltd.
The opposition has argued that the construction of the canal is unnecessary since desilting the Mahaica Creek and the four discharges currently used could do the job at times when the EDWC is at a dangerously high level and discharge is necessary.
The Conservancy has been a source of grave concern recently, given usual periods of heavy rainfall. When the conservancy, which holds water to irrigate farmlands during the dry season, is overwhelmed, it threatens the integrity of the dam, which, if compromised could cause widespread flooding on the heavily populated East Coast Demerara.
In recent years, during the rainy season when the water built up in the Conservancy, the government has had cause to ease the water into the Mahaica and Mahaicony Rivers, flooding out the farming communities along the rivers. Some residents have had to abandon their homes and farmlands and have taken up housing offered by Food for the Poor.
The World Bank, in 2007, approved what it called The Conservancy Adaptation Project, which overall costs, US$3.8 million.
The project aims at strengthening the government’s and donor understanding of the EDWC system and coastal drainage patterns through the integration of advanced mapping and engineering analysis.
The project also aims at implementing infrastructure investments to improve drainage performance, to strengthen the institutional capacity for managing water and floodwater levels, and to guide interventions to reduce Guyana’s vulnerability to floods.
The Conservancy system includes a reservoir, fronted by an earthen dam; drainage channels, used to release excess water from the reservoir during the rainy season; and a network of canals, used to provide drinking water and irrigation during the dry seasons. Because of this system, farmers are able to realize two harvests of sugar cane and rice annually.
The drainage relief structures were created to protect the EDWC dam from overtopping and collapsing during rainy seasons.
As the sea level rises, the hydraulic head between the EDWC water control structures and sea outlets is significantly reduced. The smaller head reduces both the flow rate and discharge window available to discharge excess water from the system.
In addition, sea level rise has shortened the discharge window for the coastal plain. At present, flood control is managed on an emergency basis and control efforts are focused on responding to immediate needs rather than the development of long-term control strategies.
This ad-hoc system of flood control is no longer effective and there are limitations on the ability to manage water levels in the coastal plain and prevent flooding and hence the need to better manage the Conservancy.
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