BVI News

New flood risk policy implemented for landowners in RT

From left: DDM Director Sharleen DaBreo, Project Coordinator in the Finance Ministry Dr Drexel Glasgow, and Project Manager of the Road Town Hydrology Study Dr Nick Jarritt.

Residents and businesses building new infrastructure in and around Road Town are now subject to a policy that has been introduced to reduce the risk of flooding at the site where new development will take place.

This policy was created based on the results of a Hydrology and Flood Risk study that just completed in the territory.

According to the policy, landowners planning to build on their property must submit details of their plot/parcel of land to the Town and Country Planning Department for a flood risk assessment.

“It (the assessment) gives you specific recommendations that you would need to incorporate from the design stage or, actually, from the sub-division stage all the way through to construction. So we are already using the model in the data [from the hydrology study] to inform the planning process,” explained Director of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Sharleen DaBreo.

These recommendations are to ensure that any new development in the Road Town area is not only safe and resilient at the development site, but also at surrounding areas that may become at a greater risk of flooding because of the new development.

Improving Road Town’s already-existing drainage system

Results from the overall hydrology study will also be used to improve the already-existing drainage network in the Road Town area.

Project Manager of the hydrology study Dr Nick Jarritt has said most of the ghuts in the Road Town area are already long enough and big enough to handle large volumes of water during a flood. He, however, noted that there are specific points where the ghut’s capacity to properly channel water out to sea is reduced.

“That’s where you get [problems] and flooding is generated. So, the actions that we’ve been focused on is to look at those pinch points and say ‘what can we do to increase the capacity at those locations?'”

Residents have an important role to play too

Authorities will, therefore, be moving to mitigate the current risk of flooding in those areas by increasing the capacity of these ghuts so flood waters can properly find its way out to sea.

“It’s not just about the engineering measures,” Jarritt underscored. “It’s [also] about the conditions of the ghuts, it’s about the blockages in the ghuts and keeping those clear and free from litter, debris, and stones and sediment.”

To that end, the DDM has partnered with the Department of Public Works for a maintenance and clearance plan. Efforts have already begun in that regard.

“The other angle on that is that it’s not just about Public Works, it’s not just about government, it’s about the community as well. We’ve all got a job to do to keep our ghuts clear from litter and waste,” said Jarritt, who noted that old furniture and appliances are some of the things that have been found lodged in Road Town ghuts in the recent past.

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  1. Weeping man! says:

    As usual, you just put a band-aid on a far bigger problem. You need to deal with the existing flooding issues in order for new policies on futures structures to be effective. While it is a good first step it means nothing if you don’t resolve the real issue of current storm water management!

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  2. Devon says:

    Even a blind man can see the solution !
    Water runs down hill and takes the path of least resistance !
    The rest is maintenance and enforcement of laws which are both non existent here !

  3. son of the soil says:

    It’s these nast**ss island people causing most of the flooding in the long bush and purcell area

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  4. E.Leonard says:

    Fixing the drainage/flooding in Road Town post development will be a major challenge. The drainage system should have been put in place simultaneously with the build out of Road Town. A territorial drainage master plan is needed, especially in Road Town where frequent rain events (2-, 5-, 10-year) seem to cause flooding. When rain falls, the portion that is not captured by trees, roof top, cisterns……etc hit the ground and portion that does not infiltrates into the ground runoff. Uncontrolled runoff is the cause of flooding. Further, when an area urbanizes (hard surfaces—- roofs, roads, parking lots, driveways…..etc) the volume and velocity of runoff increases. The safe collection and conveyance of runoff is a joint responsibility of property owners and Government.

    Government sets minimum design and construction standards, manage ghuts (periodic maintenance), and put in place major collection and conveyance system(s) (ghuts, ponds, pipes, curb and gutter, manholes, inlets, catch basins….etc). Property owners should properly tie into the drainage system. Further, residents, businesses……etc must avoid throwing debris, appliances, furniture….etc into the drainage system. Further, residents must also avoid filling ghuts without providing an alternative drainage flow path; flooding will result without an alternative flow path.

    Further, drainage/runoff flows from a higher elevation to a lower elevation; it flows down hill. The volume increases from upstream to downstream; as such, the discharge point(appurtenances) at the sea must have the capacity to safely discharge the flow reaching it. Another factor that could affect drainage in Road Town is high tide. During high tide, a hydraulic restriction could occur, restricting discharge and contributing to flooding.

    It is one thing to stipulate that property owners must control runoff from their property but government must put the infrastructure in place to accommodate the runoff. Fixing the drainage system will not be cheap but it is one those quality of life issues.

  5. Albion says:

    I am not sure planning around individual buildings helps at all. Road Town is one giant drainage basin with about 7 different ghuts dumping water into the metropolitan area. Unless there are serious infrastructure improvements to allow drainage during periods of intense rainfall, all of the roads and low lying areas will flood every time – no matter what kind of planning restrictions they impose around new buildings that people are putting up.

    • BVI Diaspora/Enclave says:

      @Albion, true, a number of drainage watersheds/drainage basins flow into and through Road Town. As such, a drainage plan starting with the basic unit(s), ie, residential home…..etc should be put in place and tied into the master drainage system. Runoff from the drainage basins should be intercepted, collected, transmitted and discharged into ghuts, inlets, wetlands, ponds….etc onward out to sea.

  6. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Though the reaches, widths and depts of ghuts may be able, for the most part, to safely carry the volume of the runoff of design rain events( 100-year), the challenge is getting the runoff to ghuts with minimal flooding, damages, inconveniences…….etc. To do this, as others have suggested, require a comprehensive, structurally sound and functional drainage system. What it is the minimum design standards of the ghuts, ie, 25-, 50- or 100-year?

    Are ghuts below the minimum standard going to be upgraded? Will PWD put an aggressive maintenance plan in place? Does PWD have maintenance strip/right-of-way access along both sides of ghuts to do maintenance? Typically, it is a general practice that runoff from a property after a rain event should not exceed the runoff before the event. Will this be a requirement?

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