Published:Thursday | September 26, 2019 | 12:24 AM
RESEARCHERS FROM The University of the West Indies are doing studies of the Rio Minho River in upper Clarendon to see how its sediment loads can be monitored to reduce flood risk and other climate impacts.
The project, which is being led by Dr Arpita Mandal and a team of geologists, geomorphologist and GIS Experts from the Department of Geography and Geology, involves mapping and monitoring sediment load over time and estimating the impact of flooding and erosion.
“We selected about 15 sites or locations along the river and did river transects at each of these. Four additional sites were selected for planting erosion pegs. We are monitoring these sites every month,” explained Mandal, adding that a model for flooding was also being done.
In order to effectively monitor the river and its response to weather changes, the researchers have also installed two automated weather stations, one at Edwin Allen High School in Frankfield and the other at Clarendon College in Chapelton. These emit data to the Meteorological Office, providing daily data for better forecasting and modelling.
Farming is a major livelihood in the Upper Rio Minho Watershed area, which has roughly 40 communities and a population of 69,000 persons. Small farmers grow vegetables, yams, potatoes and other tubers, pulses, sorrel, condiments, banana, cereals, plantains, and fruits.
The watershed has been designated by the National Environment and Planning Agency as one of the most degraded in Jamaica and in need of critical intervention. This was a key reason why it was identified for intervention under the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism (AP&FM) of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience project which commissioned UWI to do the research on the Rio Minho’s sediment budget.
The AP&FM will also be working with 33 of the communities in the watershed to install 1800 micro check dams, 250 communal rainwater harvesting systems, 5 aquaponics systems, as well as doing reforestation agro-forestry initiatives.
“The research being done by the UWI Department of Geography and Geology will provide data to ensure that interventions can reduce climate impacts such as flooding and drought,” said project manager for the AP&FM, Dr Winsome Townsend.
“This will ensure that we minimise damage like what happened in 2017 flooding,” she added.
At that time, the Rio Minho burst its banks and damaged bridges, farms and personal property for thousands of residents. The research team was earlier this year recognised by UWI during its 2019 Research Day Activities for the work in the watershed.