Indiscriminate dumping of garbage, ineffective storage of construction materials, and not planting foliage or trees around homes, have been linked to increased incidents of flooding across the island.
As a consequence, a senior official in the Ministry of the Environment’s Drainage Division is urging Barbadians to immediately halt these detrimental practices.
Speaking widely on the drainage issue, Senior Technical Officer in the Drainage Division, Charles Yearwood, said flooding occurred as a consequence of how some persons treated their surroundings.
“It relates to the way in which people occupy the land – how they dispose of all their waste and how they maintain their properties – whether it be a householder, a contractor or a student,” he surmised.
Pointing out that there was simply “too much garbage within our storm (rain) water,” Mr. Yearwood noted: “When one examines the materials found during the excavation and cleaning of our wells, a high-proportion of it is garbage, silt and construction aggregate (mixture of minerals; sand or gravel used to make concrete).”
“It is interesting that householders and home builders are purchasing these resources and yet much of them are being washed into the wells. They are losing and they are really wasting money,” he underlined.
Mr. Yearwood said the Division was of the view that householders, in general, needed to control the way in which they stored construction materials as well as disposed of their garbage.
“We see evidence of this across the island. The Sanitation Service Authority is doing a good job, but they need to be helped by persons who dispose of their garbage, indiscriminately. Some people are doing it well, but others are not doing it so well at all,” he opined.
The Drainage official also identified as problematic householders who attempted to “concrete all around their houses,” leaving no space for natural infiltration to the soil.
“Almost 100 percent of rainfall on their lands is running off onto the roads, so they also need to concern themselves with their contribution to the environment in terms of maintaining the foliage and oxygen production by growing trees. Trees also help to absorb a bit of water, so many together can create a significant impact on drainage.”
He also underscored the need for urgent reporting of incidents of flooding in order to assist the department in mitigation planning.
“It is also important for persons who observe incidents of flooding within their own communities, or as they drive around the island, to bring them to our attention. Sometimes flooding occurs after hours, or even during working hours, but by the time the investigating officer gets to the area there is no water. It is critical that this information is passed on to us since it helps in terms of the assessment and synthesis of issues in flooding and certainly will help us in putting together a better mitigation package,” Mr. Yearwood explained.
He also highlighted the need for persons to be their own brother’s keeper in terms of giving guidance when they observed their neighbours or persons they knew carrying out illegal works which could also exacerbate the island’s drainage problems.