Coastal Infrastructure Programme Phase II

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With phase one of Government’s Coastal Infrastructure??Programme (CIP) successfully completed, Coastal Zone?? officials?? are laying the groundwork for?? the second phase, expected to start next April.

Word of this has come from??Director??of??the Coastal??Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, who said??this??aspect?? of the work??programme will seek primarily to??reduce the??vulnerability of the island’s coastline and cliff tops to??inundation from storms, hurricanes and the effects of climate change.

"We now have to start planning and preparation for the next phase. Therefore, this year, we will be working closely with the IDB (Inter American Development Bank) in terms of preparing the loan agreement followed by the bidding and tendering processes. If everything goes to plan, it will commence in April 2011," he explained.

Noting that CIP II will entail detailed geological studies, Dr. Brewster revealed: "We have some data gaps that we have to fill.???? We are going to be focusing mainly on coastal risks and coastal vulnerability, so we are going to be trying to do a lot more GIS (Geographical Information Systems) – related data management and archiving. We will eventually need to revisit the Coastal Zone Management Plan in order to integrate this new data that will be collected."

In this regard, the Coastal Zone head cited storm surge inundation mapping; coastal hazard mapping and community vulnerability assessments on coastlines – which entails the placement of socio-economic data on coastal infrastructure – as among the areas of focus.

"We would then try to map the data so that you would be able to quantify damage on a coastline in the event that there was storm surge inundation. We are also looking at doing cliff top vulnerability assessments – which is being able to characterise cliff faces and determine the type of setbacks that are now going to be scientifically required.

"We have already done a preliminary approach within that respect and we have some basic mathematical formulas that we can now use to calculate the set back requirement.?? Now, we have to do the actual geological investigation to determine whether the cliff falls into a specific characterisation.?? If that is the case, for instance, we would be able to say that between Ragged Point and Industry in St. Philip, it can take a 25-metre setback, whereas in the area of Sam Lord’s, it may require a 45-metre setback."

According to Dr. Brewster, once this was done, areas could be zoned, as done in other countries, and included in the Physical Development Plan. He stressed that this would allow the Chief Town Planner to be able to vary regulations for setbacks according to zones and based on the structural integrity of the cliffs.

"For instance, we can say that we know definitely that in a place like Cove Bay, even though the cliff is made of shady limestone, it is very soft and highly erodible. Therefore, you do need to have a 100-metre setback from the cliff edge without fail. There is nothing that can be done about that because of the rate at which the cliff is eroding, and we would now have the scientific evidence to prove it," he noted.

In terms of benefits to Barbados, the Coastal Zone official said the studies would better prepare us for issues relating to climate change and storm inundations, in terms of knowing potentially how far inland a flood line could go under different wave or storm conditions.

"Even though you may get a category three hurricane passing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your coastline is going to be inundated. However, as a worst-case scenario, we would be able to say that we know that it is going to come up to the seaward edge of the coastal road running through Sandy Lane and, therefore, all these properties have the potential of being significantly damaged. We would then put a value on that and it would allow the Department of Emergency Management and other agencies to be better prepared," Dr. Brewster revealed.

The Coastal Zone Director noted, that in the past, calculations were based on empirical investigations, and what was observed from the sea front, undercut, cliff fracturing and evidence of fresh cliff failure.

"In areas where there was no development, we tried to impose a greater setback to maintain the openness of the area, but now we would have a much better means of doing that," he stressed.

cgaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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