Reddy: Digging drains not the answer to flooding

Aisea Racule peeps through a tunnel at a flooded Waidamudamu settlement in Nausori. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

DIGGING drains is not the answer to addressing the flooding problem around the country. Minister for Waterways Dr Mahendra Reddy says flooding, or waterlogging of low-lying areas and overflowing of rivers and creeks were generally associated with excessive rainfall induced runoff which were beyond conveyance capacity of drains and rivers.

Dr Reddy said in Fiji, the high intensity rainfall coupled with catchments activities and physical characteristics of the country’s catchments (slopes) contributed to damaging floods.

“Questions have been raised as to why our conveyance system are over spilling now more than before and the reasons are several but one of them is due to climate change, the intensity and frequency of rain which has increased significantly over the last three decades,” he said.

“With this change, our waterways now have to handle more volume of water then what they used to handle before. “Secondly, our catchments upstream are not able to absorb and hold as much water now as they used to absorb and hold before. “This is because of deforestation and agricultural activity upstream over the last three decades.”

Dr Reddy said forest cover of catchments upstream had reduced significantly hence reducing the soils ability to absorb and hold water.

“Thirdly, due to poor cultivation practices upstream, massive amount of soil and debris are now finding its way into waterways thus reducing its volume and discharge capacity,” he said.

“Lastly, downstream developments have also resulted in rainfall water runoffs into our waterways, which were previously absorbed by open spaces and grass cover. “In this regard, any holistic and sustainable solution to flooding can be addressed by providing solutions and strategies at all these levels.”

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