NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The solution to the capital’s flooding woes has a multi-million dollar price tag, according to BRON Ltd. Coastal Engineer Carlos Palacious.
However, Palacious said in order to find out the actual cost, a full study and assessment would have to be conducted across the island.
A smaller study was done for the Sustainable Nassau Report in 2017, which predicted that millions of dollars would have to go into the project for its success.
With rising costs following the pandemic and high inflation globally, Palacious estimated that a project of this magnitude could possibly run the government into tens of millions of dollars.
Hurricane Ian brought swaths of long-lasting rain which settled in many areas unable to dry quickly enough for vehicles and pedestrians to walk through.
Palacious says solving the flooding altogether will require a drainage and stormwater maintenance infrastructure and management program. He explained that the reason for flooding in many cases is that buildings were constructed on land that was natural drains.
“In those types of areas, we need holistic systems in addition to just gravity or where the water flows by natural flow through pipes; pumps might also be needed and retention ponds…so that when there’s a heavy amount of rain, the water can go somewhere, as well as deep wells,” he said.
“So, deep wells are dug several hundred feet into the ground and when the water is collected into a drain, it flows through a network of pipes, and then it goes deep down into the ground.
“And so as long as the water can flow into the deep well faster than the rain is coming into the collection point, then the water obviously will dissipate or it’ll be managed effectively,” Palacious said.
Drains pumps and pumps have previously been discussed by local developers as potential solutions. However, considering the country’s high water table, Palacious says that the most practical solution for New Providence would most likely be deep wells.
He continued: “So they can be installed almost anywhere, but they have to be installed as an entire network so that all of the water that’s collected in a certain area can be brought into one of these deep wells that goes down into the ground.
“That is a solution that can happen, and it’s a major matter over here. Budgeting for it nationally, planning for it, engineering, etc; but it’s a solution that works.
“It’s already happening in New Providence and in other islands, but it would just need to be improved and expanded to tackle some of this flooding,” he said.
Heavy rain bands from the passing hurricane have also caused water to settle in many communities and near schools causing major challenges for students and parents, with some roads covered in knee-deep water. I
n the meantime, Minister of Works, Alfred Sears said that he and his team have already begun tackling the issue.
“It’s not only Carlton Francis but also C.V. Bethel, where you have potted water; and the only way you can get through is by vehicle or by taking off your shoes and walking through the water,” he said.
“So I’m advised that that’s being addressed now. Based on a what’s app I would have received from Mr. Henry Moxey [Ministry of works Senior Engineer].
“The challenge we have in the Bahamas, and this is why land use, we are reviewing the land use policy – is that many of our structures were built on wetlands,” Sears said.
The Minister of Works added that they are in the process of looking over the country’s building code; saying that due to the higher frequency of stronger hurricanes, there’s a need to build with greater resistance.
“As we review our building code; and for those of you who would have joined us last week in the presentation, you know, we have a consultancy with Mott MacDonald.
“That consultancy is to review the building code, look at best practices, benchmark it internationally so that as we move forward, we could very more effectively ensure that building is consistent with a rational land use policy,” Sears said.