By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT will have to do away with the current drainage system entirely in order to alleviate flooding endemic to low-lying communities in New Providence, according to Ministry of Works officials.
Pointing to the low efficacy of drainage systems during last week’s record rainfall, senior engineers explained that existing infrastructure in hard-hit areas such as Pinewood has been “maxed out”.
Dwight King, acting chief engineer at the Ministry of Works, said: “Engineering always involves making judgements and trade-offs, so now we’re faced with a situation that is unprecedented, we’re gonna have to go back and look at it and make the adjustments. A lot of it involves balancing technical requirements with economic requirements – that’s always part of it. We’re gonna look at the situation and make necessary adjustments.”
During a tour of flooded area in Pinewood last week, engineers explained that drains did not function effectively due to the intensity of rainfall Tuesday, and clogging, despite recent maintenance on wells in Pinewood and Elizabeth Estates.
Pointing out that numerous studies had been undertaken in the search for a solution to geographical challenges, Dexter Williams, senior engineer responsible for drainage, suggested that cost may be a deterrent to implementing a new system.
Mr Williams said: “In terms of the current infrastructure that we have, we have maxed it out. For us to solve this problem it will be another type of solution, which will be very costly.”
In Pinewood, Mr Williams said there are more than 80 drainage wells with depths between 150 and 200 ft; however, the area’s geographic characteristics made the wells inefficient.
He said: “When we drilled the wells we realised that during high tide the water is up in the chamber of the well, so there’s no head to push the water down.
“Because of the geographical consistency of Pinewood, its a dump area so the wells are not very efficient. They’re supposed to take approximately 610 gallons per minute during normal flow. Some of these wells during high tide and heavy precipitation [drained] zero.”
Mr Williams said drainage systems in Nassau Village were impacted by the construction of the Charles Saunder’s Highway, which acts as a dam in the “low lying catchment” area.
Officials also pointed to the record downpour which saw up to 15 inches of rain over a 12-hour period last week.
Adding that lawn trimmings and debris often blocked drain grates in Elizabeth Estates, Mr King called on residents to partner with the government and also take ownership of drainage wells located near their homes.
He said: “The government takes care of the infrastructure, but there’s a sense in my view, the residents also have some degree of ownership. When it’s in front of your house, it’s not too much to just care, make sure it’s clear.