The Water Challenge

Climatestotravel reports: Precipitation is scarce in Aruba, so that in an average year, the island receives about 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain fall; the only fairly rainy period goes from October to December, when 80/95 millimeters (3/3.7 inches) or rain per month fall, due to the north-east trade winds, which can cause rain showers quite frequently even in January …

This year the so-called rainy season came early, and October will be remembered as a wet month, also the month when everyone was late to work, because of the closing of roads for construction, and because of the frequent inundation of the Cumana roundabout.

We seem to completely fail to manage the water in certain key areas, Sun Plaza, Downtown Oranjestad, and as soon as it rains these low-lying areas get flooded.

Fact: Water always finds its way to the lowest point.

One of my exercise-friends has a Water-Engineer son, who could not find employment on the island, in his field, and is now managing people for a technical service company.  

What’s with the water, I asked. Is it feasible for the sewage sucking trucks to be syphoning the flood water away, as a long-term solution?

No, he said.

It’s an integration challenge. They have to spend more time thinking how to integrate the new project into the existing water infrastructure, no project stands along, it is all connected, if you solve the Tanki Leendert challenge, for example, you may flood Madiki, so careful thought consideration has to be given to height differences, and to retaining more water upstream, instead of it all rushing and flooding downstream.

And thought must be given to the construction of culverts – the concrete, stone or pipe tunnels carrying the stream, or an open drain, so they are carefully engineered to handle the water load. While culverts prevent flooding by channeling the water away, they are also wasteful, and hamper the island from retaining the water for the dry months, and for agriculture.

In Aruba, my new friend explained, the water is diverted into dams, via a naturally occurring rooi system, but home construction and lack of planning often result in flooding, then the water must be diverted again, otherwise bigger dams must be created, which require more land, which we don’t have.   

Water-engineering is a branch of Civil Engineering, and as a civil engineer you may pick traffic, construction or water specializations. Who knew?

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October 25, 2018
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