Solving Barbados’ Flooding Problems

Why is there flooding in some areas of Barbados whenever there is a torrential downpour?

1.  The areas that flooded were not designed to accommodate the amount of storm-water.

2.  The areas were designed to accommodate the amount of storm-water, but the drainage infrastructure (drains and wells) were not properly maintained.

The maintenance issue can be solved by increasing the frequency of maintenance, and providing sufficient resources to do this.  The design issue can be solved with significantly less effort.

When designing a drainage solution, the designer needs to know the amount of storm-water that the drainage infrastructure should accommodate.  This amount of storm-water is normally expressed as the rainfall event that is expected once in, say, 20 years.  The designer can easily determine the amount of storm-water that is expected from a rainfall event that is expected once in every: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 years.  Therefore, a lack of information is not the problem.

The principal problem is that there are no drainage standards in Barbados for designers to follow, and for Clients to insist be followed.  I believe that all drainage structures in Barbados should be designed for a rainfall event that is expected once in at least every 20 years.  If this drain is poorly maintained, then it should still work for a storm that is expected once in 10 years.  However, if the drain is designed for a 1 in 2-year event, and it is poorly maintained, then we should expect flooding whenever we get a torrential downpour.

Now that we know the principal problem, and we have determined a solution, it is up to the Government to simply state that from henceforth, all drainage facilities in Barbados must be designed for a minimum 1 in 20-year rainfall event.


3 responses to “Solving Barbados’ Flooding Problems

  1. Pingback: Solving Barbados’ Flooding Problems | Ace Card's Caribbean Vacation

  2. There was an old lady on CBC last night (22 October 2008 ) who said that the landslides in the Scotland District were caused by livestock no longer grazing. Could this be true?

    Hi CBC Watcher:

    I also saw the broadcast. I believe that she mentioned that in the past, sheep and cows used to graze in the hills, and the rain water used to run on the surface. She noted that since the sheep and cows no longer grazed, that the grass became tall, and rain water penetrated the soil and it became unstable. The story is also carried in the Nation Newspaper

    Her analysis of the situation is reasonable and insightful. The clay in the Scotland District is almost impervious to water when it is compacted. The hoofs of the grazing sheep and cows can apply sufficient pressure to the soil to compact the surface layers of clay, resulting in water not penetrating into the soil, and instead flowing on the surface.

    When clay becomes saturated, and if it is on a hill, then it can slide or slip. If the livestock are no longer grazing, and the grass is allowed to grow, then the roots can penetrate the soil allowing it to become looser over time. Rain water can penetrate loose soil much easier than it can penetrate compacted soil. Loose saturated clay on a slope is vulnerable to land slippage.

    The 74 year old Eudora Boyce appears to have carefully observed the evidence, logically analysed it, and provided a reasonable conclusion. Our elderly are truly a treasure of knowledge, and I support our Prime Minister’s call that they should be consulted on drainage matters. Actually, Engineering drainage design manuals normally specify that older persons in the community should be consulted when designing drainage systems.


  3. as a scientist how will you solve the problem of flooding in your community

You are encouraged to present your opinion.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s