Image: Department of Emergency Management
With plans for the roll out of two major projects aimed at addressing perennial flooding problems, Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, believes that the flooding woes experienced by Barbadians in recent times could be significantly reduced. He identified the purchase of additional equipment and providing year-round drainage services as key components of projects.
Cautioning that his Ministry could not “dictate the course of nature,” Dr. Lowe said: “What we want to ensure is that come rainy season … there will be significant evidence of the reduction of flooding in Barbados as a result of the programme that we are about to roll out.”
The Ministry’s Drainage Unit, Dr. Lowe told a recent press briefing, would, within the next week or two, be unveiling two major projects, one at Headley’s Land and the other on the West Coast, to address niggling problems “that we want to put to rest once and for all”.
Adding that they were also in the process of putting the infrastructure in place to construct a Drainage Division, that was “intended to be comprehensive in its scope and ambitious in its programmes”, he said the constant struggle of the unavailability of equipment also needed to be addressed.
To this end, the Environment Minister said provision had been made in this year’s Estimates for the requisite funds to provide the department with the equipment and personnel needed for this task. He surmised that it would cost some $10 million, in the initial stages, to drive the programme.
One area in which change was essential, Minister Lowe said, was the provision of drainage services. In this regard, he underscored that under his watch these services would not be seasonal, but would be part of a year-round programme.
“I think one of the problems we’ve had, as I have seen it, is that there’s a down period in drainage services, and there cannot be,” Dr. Lowe stated.
What was necessary, he opined, was for work to be ongoing, even during the rainy season, and for drainage personnel to be on the ground trying to ascertain why certain areas were flood prone.
The Minister also stressed the need for a community-based education programme, where the Division would work in tandem with long-standing citizens within communities who understood what happened both within and outside of the rainy season.
“That needs to become part of the pool of information that we use to set our programmes. So that, when the rains are over we can get to work with our capital works programmes and well clearings. Every well in Barbados has to be signed off as ready for rain when it comes,” the Minister asserted.
The Drainage Division, which was recently brought under the aegis of the Environment Ministry, comprises what was previously the Sanitation Services Authority’s drainage works section and the Ministry of Transport and Works Drainage Unit.