The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has announced that a $300M sluice would be built at D’Edward, West Coast Berbice to enhance drainage of residential and agricultural areas between the Abary and Berbice rivers.
At its end-of-year press conference last Friday, Minister Noel Holder said that the new sluice would replace the 50-year-old existing structure.
He said too that the ministry has recognized the importance of improving the drainage and irrigation (D&I) systems throughout the country.
Greater emphasis must be placed on water planning, development and management by the National Drainage & Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA).
According to the minister, D&I works in Region No. 5 are mainly executed by the MMA-ADA but the NDIA would provide supplementary works in the Abary-Mahaica area.
Additionally, the ministry would commence Phase 2 of the Abary/Mahaicony conservancy with the construction of a 4.5 mile main canal and 10 mile dam.
This proposed dam will extend the current Abary/Berbice conservancy to service agricultural lands between the Abary and Mahaicony rivers.
“Taking due cognizance of the effects of global warming on rainfall patterns and sea level rise, we recognize that our systems must be improved,” he said.
He said this year the ministry will commence the process of “mapping facilities structures” and D&I channels in each region.
These maps will show the location and other pertinent data and would indicate which works are executed by Water Users Associations, Community Development Councils, Farmers’ groups, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, etc. and would be a major asset in depicting the D&I systems throughout Guyana.
Giving a breakdown for the other regions, he said that in Region No. 2, the major drainage problem is the heavy deposit of sediment in the drainage outfall channels between Devonshire Castle and La Union (including Hampton Court, Lima, Anna Regina, Three Friends, Taymouth Manor and Capoey).
“We have currently employed a pontoon mounted by two long boom excavators to keep these channels clean. This system is inefficient as an excavated outfall channel is blocked within a week if there is no heavy rainfall to flush the channel. The acquisition of a dredger would significantly improve the efficiency of the drainage systems…,” the minister said.
In Region 3, the focus would be to rehabilitate the drainage infrastructure on the underdeveloped agricultural areas between Lochaber and Maripa so that farmers can return to their trade.
The ministry plans to focus on Buxton, East Coast Demerara in Region 4, and replace a pump station that was constructed in 1927 and is currently providing drainage. Additionally, the construction of a new NDIA headquarters building will commence in the region.
He noted that: “A major problem in Region 6 has been the need to desilt the outfall channels (each about one mile long) at Adventure, Eversham, Joppa and No. 52 Village twice per year. This exercise is costly and very time-sensitive in terms of the rainy seasons. NDIA’s acquisition of a dredger would help to keep these channels clear.”
Furthermore, he said, for the first time, NDIA will be undertaking works in the North and South Rupununi villages, Region 9, which have traditionally suffered from inadequate water supplies for their crops and livestock during dry months of 2016.
“This has severely affected their livelihoods. To this end, we will be improving or building rainwater harvesting facilities in these communities, commencing in the North. Works are planned for the villages of Wowetta, Rupertee, Annai, Aranaputa, Massara and others,” the minister said. “…Region 10 imports more than 85% of its food”, he added.
This year, he said, the NDIA will be improving the irrigation in West Watooka to facilitate the cultivation of crops on a larger scale with a view to reducing this region’s dependence on other regions for its food supplies.
According to him, “The NDIA is, therefore, expected to be more proactive in 2017 with the introduction of a Dredger that will greatly improve outfall channels’ capacity for carrying water, thereby significantly decreasing the possibility of flooding especially along the coastland. There will also be the introduction of a remote telemetric system for NDIA equipment in Regions 1-6 and 10.”
With the need for alternative sources of energy, specifically, for Hydropower development, Minister Holder said new climatological and hydrological stations will be constructed at Kato, Chi Chi, Sand Landing and Amaila Falls.
The stations will assist the Guyana Energy Agency to be “equipped with data on the potential of these rivers for power production for the implementation of future projects.”
The ministry also plans to focus on “water resources management, that is, the sustainable management of our ground and surface water resources.”
He added: “Our water resources must be utilised such that there is a balancing between the exploitation of water for development and local industries while also allowing for the provision of the required quality and quantity of water for eco-system services.”
Therefore, he said, it is as much about managing water and water users as it is about managing our environment, and being able to establish a balance between the two.
This year too, the Hydromet Service will commence the process of seeking to address both aspects, with the completion and operationalization of a Water Quality Laboratory and accompanying regulations for the licensing of wells, well drillers and for surface water abstraction.
These regulatory provisions will ensure adequate and effective use of water for irrigation, food production, etc.
He said too: “Another important area of focus for the Hydromet Services in 2017 will be the implementation of the ISO Quality Management System (QMS) at the National Weather Watch Centre (NWWC).”
The implementation of the QMS will ensure that the Government of Guyana remains in compliance with the standards required by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The implementation of a QMS will ensure that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport maintains its standing as an international port of entry for aviation.
In terms of regional development, the ministry plans to install Automatic Weather Stations in Regions 1 (Santa Rosa), 4 (Carifesta Avn), 8 (Amaila Falls) and 9 (Pirara Agri Station), to expand the network. Water Level loggers will be installed in Regions 3 (Essequibo River), 6 (New Amsterdam and Corentyne River) and 8 (Amaila Falls) and in the Pomeroon River, Region 2.
A tidal gauge will be placed in Region 6 to monitor oceanographic data to support the budding oil and gas and other industries.