July 2010

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From the Principal: A flood of initiatives

One of the perennial challenges facing the country, particularly during the rainy season, is flooding. Its impact has been felt at all levels, from the inconvenience of flooded streets and traffic congestion to the damage to homes and crops and the destruction of infrastructure and roadways through landslides. The attendant losses and hardships carry an enormous economic cost, quite apart from the emotional distress to the affected families and communities.

At the St. Augustine Campus, we have been supporting initiatives that can address some of the flooding factors. These include training engineers and environmental scientists, conducting research and establishing formal links with relevant governmental agencies.

At the graduate level, for instance, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is currently expanding its offerings in water management. A new M.Sc. in Water and Wastewater Services Management will deliver courses applying hydrologic models for flood mapping and designing a network for measuring and monitoring rainfall and streamflow. Several ongoing research projects are assessing links between land use and flood risk. This is particularly important as it pertains to land zoning and watershed management, construction methods and emergency response planning.

Issues surrounding quarrying have been of great concern as activities associated with it affect the environment because of heavy discharges of sediment loads into streams and rivers. When these sediments are deposited, they significantly reduce waterways, making them unable to contain river flows within their banks. The UWI St. Augustine has been involved in two major studies seeking to quantify sediment amounts so that proper mitigation strategies can be employed. Another major concern has been the issue of solid waste disposal in our rivers and its effect on the free flow of water.

Currently being reviewed is a proposal to use remote-sensing data to support flood risk assessment. This proposal details how the collection of data will support flood inundation modelling studies in Trinidad and Tobago. Our Campus, in particular the southern side, has been susceptible to flooding in recent years and we are working with the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation and our Member of Parliament for the area to treat this issue.

The Campus stands ready to assist national efforts to solve flooding problems. We signed an MOU with the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), and have been working closely with the Water Resources Agency (WRA), which is responsible for hydrologic data in our country, on building flood mitigation capability. We are also currently working with the Ministry of Works and Transport to reduce nationwide flooding.

The Campus’ research and technical expertise are central to the effective execution of initiatives by public and private sector agencies. We will continue to provide intellectual leadership and service in the area of research and innovation, as our contribution to advancing the national and regional development agenda.

Clement K. Sankat
Pro Vice Chancellor & Principal


Campus Principal: Professor Clement Sankat
Director of Marketing and Comunications: Mrs. Dawn Marie De Four-Gill
Editor: Ms. Vaneisa Baksh

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