by Anicia Antoine
The first phase of the John Compton Dam Desilting Project has been completed. This saw the removal of the sediments around the dam wall to clear the lower abstraction port with the overall aim of increasing the plant’s water reserve capacity.
The John Compton Dam had accumulated over 1.7 million cubic meters of silt over the years, displacing over 400 million gallons of water.
According to the Head of the Project Management Unit at the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO), Mr. Gordon Wyke, a large share of the silt can be credited to previous hurricanes and tropical storms including Hurricane Thomas in 2010 and Tropical Storm Debbie in 1994.
Chairman of the Board of the Directors at WASCO, Mr. Francis Denbow, explains that there is still a large amount of sediment to be removed which may take up to approximately 10 years. WASCO’s immediate goal is to extract an additional 300,000 cubic meters of sediment.
Mr. Denbow said: “To illustrate the amount of silt, it is equivalent to roughly 50 football fields, with each football field filled with approximately 20 feet of silt. That’s a tremendous amount of silt that has to be desilted or extracted from the dam to go into the sediment disposal area and there is no way that could be done between one or two years, it’s a long process between one year to ultimately 10 years. In any one year you could only extract roughly 200,000 cubic meters of silt, and you could only do that during the rainy season, you cannot extract silt from the dam during the dry season.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Natural Resources, and Cooperatives, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, expressed satisfaction with the work done by the WASCO team and contractors saying that the milestones achieved thus far on this initiative ties into the broader programme agenda for development within the sector.
“It was very challenging as we had no control over the weather, and when we awarded the contract for the construction of the sediment disposal area, it was targeted to coincide with the dry season. Unfortunately, that year it was not a traditional dry season it was a rainy season and the contractor unfortunately lost approximately one year of down time, that affected the dredging. This was something new to us in the region and we have learnt from the experience. We were able to accomplish it because there have been talks about dredging the John Compton Dam since Hurricane Thomas in 2010.”
The second phase of the John Compton Dam Desilting Project is expected to commence in three months.