The Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) is advising farmers that the water level in the Abary Conservancy is “dangerously low”.
Chairman of the MMA-ADA, Rudolph Gajraj told Stabroek News yesterday that the demands from the Guyana Sugar Corporation and rice farmers will take a toll on the conservancy. He explained that GuySuCo was reliant on a certain level of water for its irrigation canals for the 10 to 12 weeks of the first sugar crop, which is set to commence next week.
He stated that the irrigation canals would also need a certain water level to allow for the punts to be used.
Gajraj said that rice farmers will also need large volumes of water for the first crop. With Guyana’s record breaking rice cultivation last year, over 635,000 tonnes, access to water is imperative to maintain the continued growth of the sector. He said that the present water levels in the conservancy amount to a “very dangerous situation.”
In a notice in today’s Stabroek News, the MMA said that the water level was currently 58.42 GD (Georgetown Datum) whereas dead storage is 59.5 GD.
It said that all persons in the Abary/Berbice block of the MMA area must take immediate steps to conserve and prevent wastage of irrigation water.
Head of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Lionel Words-worth yesterday said that the major concern was that coming off of a rainy season there may not be enough water to satisfy upcoming irrigation needs. He told Stabroek News that this was a natural hydrological phenomena and really there was nothing more to be done other than to ensure water conservation.
He said that unfortunately the amount of rainfall over the last few weeks was just not sufficient to replenish the levels at the Abary Conservancy. He noted that the East Demerara Water Conser-vancy was not below the dead storage level but is below the fully supply level. Wordsworth said that this would be enough for the weeks ahead.
The MMA notice said that farmers must ensure that regulators on the secondary irrigation canals are blocked, that all field drainage outlets are blocked, conserve on field/ crop use and report any tampering with any structure to the authorities.
Farmers in the Mahaica and Mahaicony are to: regulate their pumping activities, avoid tampering or damaging any infrastructure and to conserve on crop use.
Farmers were warned that failure to comply could lead to prosecution and imprisonment under Section 34 of the MMA Act.
The water shortage in the Abary Conservancy underlines the major problem Guyana faces regulating drainage and irrigation. The water shortage is occurring just at the end of what was supposed to be one of Guyana’s rainy periods. Amid all of this, the major government intervention was to build the $3.6 billion Hope Canal on the East Coast to drain excess water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy. That long-delayed project is still to be commissioned.
Wordsworth yesterday noted that the Hope Canal is to be used in times of excess water, the idea was originally conceptualized after the 2005 Great Flood.
During a launching of the Guyana Rice Development Board’s aromatic rice yesterday at the Guyana International Conference Centre, rice farmers did not express much anxiety about the MMA warning. It is yet to be determined whether problems will arise once the rice crop is in full swing and farmers need access to large quantities of fresh water.