Frequency of Pomeroon flooding is frightening

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Dear Editor,

Mr. Charles Sohan, former Chief Hydraulic Officer in Guyana, recently shared his engineering views about flooding in the Pomeroon. Mr. Sohan is indeed an accomplished and brilliant Hydraulics Engineer, and I respect his suggestions. Rain and high tides, predictable, but, unstoppable, are natural phenomena and have affected farmers and coastal residents in Guyana since the time of the Dutch in the seventeenth century. Billions of dollars have since been spent, by the Dutch, the British, and the various governments of Guyana to alleviate this problem.

We are now in the 21st century and the problem of flooding in Georgetown and the coastal areas is now more frightening than ever. I lived at Anna Regina from 1940 to 1981 and the first depth, the residential area, which is below sea level, has always experienced flooding. This is in spite of massive pumps, wider and deeper collector drains, stronger sea sluices, and higher sea walls. The residents on higher grounds never had a problem with flooding. This is a viable solution. North of Red Lock, three miles inland of Anna Regina, Lima Sands, is a new and vibrant housing scheme with running water, electricity, and an all-weather road coming soon. This beautiful sand reef extends from Mcnab on the north, to Supenaam on the south and, except for a few areas, is mostly uninhabited. Instead of trying to find house lots on the Coast where flooding is inevitable, the government should develop and create house lots on the sand reef south of Red Lock (as on the North) where flooding is avertible.

Mr. Sohan in his missive, suggested bunds, raising of the river banks, installation of pumps, sluices, kokers, and dredging the estuary of the Pomeroon to mitigate the problem of flooding. These are aged suggestions, and, as the learned Engineer explained, dredging is expensive and has to be a recurring operation for it to be effective. These are all sound theoretical solutions, but not practical. I know a little of Pomeroon, the river dam, the kokers, the spring tides, and the floods. Pomeroon has little or no clay soil that is necessary to build stronger, higher, and secured dams. The banks are made up of loose, pegasse soil, trees, and discarded coconut husks, and are not retentive and secure, have spaces and holes all over that water seeps through during every high tide. Mr. Sohan failed to mention the numerous reports of flooding in the Pomeroon when water is released from the gates of the Dawa pump station to protect the banks of the Tapakuma conservancy. Climate change, as the Chief said, is causing more intense rainfall, and if I may add, higher tides. These elements have surely aggravated the flooding situation. There is no practical solution, engineering or otherwise, to reduce, or impose a restriction to the intense rainfall, higher spring tides, and the mighty Atlantic. Consequently, and sadly, flooding in Guyana, the Land of many waters, will continue to affect the lives of many farmers and residents


Mohamed Majeed

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