Government should be investigating paved areas that breathe as part of GT’s drainage solution

Dear Editor,

Here’s what NBC News had to say about the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey:

“…[A] consequence of all the growth in Harris County [Texas] is more concrete…All that development and pavement has led to less exposed ground, meaning the area was less able to absorb the tremendous amount of rain it received this past week.”

The wise learn from others’ mistakes. If Guyana’s local and central governments continue to ignore the concretization of Georgetown, the future for the majority of residents could be pretty bleak, as rainstorms become more ferocious and unpredictable. Last time I heard, GT is still 6’ below sea level. And by the way, folks, building your homes or offices 6’ higher will not make you immune to devastation or its after effects, when your customers, clients, children’s schools, roads, support systems, are all under water.

Even if GT still had the original drainage system, it would not be able to take all the run-off from increasingly concretized yards, because it was designed to work in conjunction with the exposed ground that existed then. As it is, the drainage system is a fraction of what it used to be, given the number of people who have annexed drains, with or without city council permission, in order to accommodate the expansion of their buildings and parking lots.

Guyanese see concretization as a symbol of progress, but cities around the world that have already made that mistake, are now being forced to think of ways to solve the excessive run-off problems GT is currently facing, and innovators are coming up with interesting ideas to create paved areas that breathe. Not all are practical where Georgetown is concerned, but some of the concepts are worthy of consideration, and the Guyana government should have technocrats putting out feelers. For example, the concept of porous/permeable paving materials, especially for yards, parking lots, and pavements, is one way to go. Then there’s the more funky Dutch designer Bennie Meeks ‘Living Pavements’ concept: http://popupcity.net/living-pavements-to-greenify-public-s…/ which could offer inspiration for local civil engineers to come up with their own ideas.

GT officials and residents must start thinking ahead now, otherwise the ad hocery that has replaced sensible planning will ultimately cause the demise of this already struggling garden city.

Yours faithfully,

Maureen Marks-Mendonca

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