The water level in Capoey Lake, located on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two, is gradually receding owing to the El Nino dry weather phenomenon as well as water being drained from the lake to nearby rice fields.

Shown is the eastern side of Capoey Lake, on the Essequibo Coast. Residents say the steps shown the left of the picture were covered by water a few weeks ago.
Shown is the eastern side of Capoey Lake, on the Essequibo Coast. Residents say the steps shown the left of the picture were covered by water a few weeks ago.

This newspaper visited the area on Thursday following reports that the level of the water was receding, leaving several parts dry. The lake, which is located close to the villages of Affiance and Taymouth Manor on the Essequibo Coast Public Road, is the route used by residents of the nearby Amerindian community of Capoey, located at its south-western end, to reach the more populated villages along the public road.

According to residents at Capoey, the water level in the lake has been receding over the past several weeks but the process was initiated when the authorities on the Essequibo coast opened a nearby koker to drain water into the rice fields. This, they, noted had caused difficulties for the boat transport system which they utilize to cross the lake.

When contacted last week, personnel at the Drainage and Irrigation office of the Regional Democratic Council of Region Two, told Stabroek News that draining water from the lake was the only option rice farmers in the area had to access water. According to one officer, the present El Nino weather pattern had seen water in the nearby Tapakuma conservancy which serves the area, reduced to a low level. He said the conservancy was usually fed by water from a creek connecting it to the Pomeroon River. The official also said that savannah land located close to the Capoey is the lake’s source of water.

Capoey village is seen with the lake in the foreground. According to residents the water is usually level with the platform on the right
Capoey village is seen with the lake in the foreground. According to residents the water is usually level with the platform on the right

According to the official, water has been draining from the Capoey Lake for several weeks, and he noted that the intermittent rainfall being experienced in the region had not impacted greatly on the water level. He said this situation had occurred before, but had not been as severe.

Capoey residents echoed similar views, noting that the water once reached a jetty located on at the front of the village close to the lake. Toshao of Capoey,Valerie Deyoung told Stabroek News last week that she had informed the authorities about the situation, noting that residents depended on the lake to reach the eastern side and the Essequibo Public Road. She said the koker door had been broken to release water into the nearby rice fields, but the authorities never returned to fix it.

According to an official at the Timehri Met Office, the present El Nino weather phenomenon, which began earlier this year, is expected to continue for the next several months; he noted that the annual May/June rains had not featured this year. He said the November/December annual rainfall period which usually began with the hurricane season, also a dormant feature this year, had not been evident thus far. According to the official, so far there were only isolated and scattered showers around the country and he noted that the water levels in all areas around the country may be low.

According to Angela (only name given), who operates a transportation service across the lake as well as a hire car service along the 2 mile long road which connects Capoey to the Taymouth Manor Public Road, the low water level in the lake  had been hampering operations and inconveniencing persons who wanted to travel out of Capoey village. Another resident said that the road, which connected the lake to the public road, was filled with many potholes and was in dire need of repairs.

Angela  explained that  three speedboats, powered by 15-45 horsepower engines, plied the route across the lake, namely, her boat, that of another villager and the Capoey Village Council’s boat – the latter is at present unable to navigate across the lake since the outboard engine’s shaft is too long. According to Angela, a few weeks ago she took as little as 10 minutes to cross the lake but now, as observed by Stabroek News, the trip took as much as half an hour.

Capoey residents are hoping that the situation would improve within the coming weeks, noting that many persons were expected to travel to Capoey later this month for the annual Heritage Day celebrations and the lake is the only way Capoey can be accessed from the eastern side.

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