Last update: 06-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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New system to be tested in Bamboo
An innovative anti-flood measure is to be tested in Bamboo Settlement No 3 and if it works, says Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh, it will be replicated in other lowland areas affected by floods.
Standing close to the banks of the St Joseph River in an area of flat terrain that has a high water table, not far from the Caroni Swamp, Dr Stephen Ramroop, CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), introduced the water-controlling device and its designer, independent consultant engineer Ken Dalchand, who demonstrated how it works.
Dalchand has protected the intellectual property rights to the deep concrete cylinder and registered it with the Intellectual Property Office, part of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. The design is based on a philosophy of “living with water” rather than creating barriers. “When you build barriers, like in New Orleans, you create problems, they collapse,” said Ramroop.
Dalchand took influence from the Dutch system of water control while also visiting New Jersey in the United States to see a similar kind of cylinder in action. Bamboo No 3 has flooded up to six times a year for the past five years, mostly because of what Dalchand described as an obsolete sluice gate that was failing to stop water from the river from inundating the low-lying ground. The water pump in the area was also found to be inefficient at removing the water from the land after flooding.
“Once the water level of the river rises to above one inch higher than the water level in the drain, it will lock off,” Dalchand explained, adding that the cylinder then slowly discharges water, thereby controlling the velocity and capacity of water entering the drain. It works like a canal lock system like those seen on waterways in England, he said.
The system is yet to be tested in a real-life flood situation but it has already helped the ODPM and WASA operatives monitor the levels of garbage being thrown into the river—a large part of the flooding problem in the area and in T&T as a whole. Every week, Dalchand said, he removes ten bags of garbage, plastic bottles and bags that have collected by the entrance of the cylinder, having floated downstream from the village. He described the littering as “overwhelming.”
Ramroop says they will monitor garbage levels to chart “cultural change” and attitudes to littering the river amongst local residents. He also said they will be photographing it and posting pictures online so residents can see the accumulation and the results of their actions.
The design and construction of the new technology has taken two and a half years from start to finish after discussions began between Dalchand and the director of the Drainage Division, Shamshad Mohammed. But the next one will take less time, closer to six months, now that the prototype is built and in place.
Singh attended the demonstration after a tour of the St Joseph constituency, and congratulated Dalchand for his design, describing it as a “pioneering event” and another in “a long line of innovations” T&T has created to deal with water. He ranked it alongside the Beetham Sewage Water Treatment Plant, “the best treatment plant in the western hemisphere,” and the access to mega-watersheds that has brought “water for all” in Tobago.
“It is in this context, at the cutting edge of innovation and benchmarking models, that we view this design,” Singh said. “We hope to test it under various conditions and hope we will be able to replicate it and prevent flooding in so many areas that are low-lying.” He congratulated Dalchand and Mohammed for their “foresight in embracing innovation,” concluding that “it is by innovation, inspiration and leadership we will find solutions to the problems that bedevil our country.”
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