Story and photos by Theresa Goodwin
Approximately US$3 million has been set aside to clear a major natural waterway of overgrown vegetation and restructure it to end severe flooding and other drainage problems that have plagued the Cashew Hill community for years.
The project, which started on Sunday at the Cashew Hill Watershed, is also aimed at reducing the presence of disease-causing mosquitoes.
Once the area is cleared, some portions will be covered with concrete similar to work undertaken at the ponds at MacKinnons and Woods.
It forms part of an overarching project intended to boost community reliance taking place in Dominica and Grenada, as well as Antigua and Barbuda.
Coordinator Craig Cole said the Department of Environment will be working alongside the Public Works department to create a 3,500-foot concrete drain to run through the channel from Cashew Hill to Big Creek Bridge.
“We will have an area where the water flows in the first pond; it’s collected, filtered etc and then enters a second pond before it enters the main way that leads into Big Creek. This way we will ensure that the water that enters Big Creek is good enough to mingle with the rest of the water that flows out that way,” Cole said.
He explained that the department has a water monitoring plan specifically for the works.
“All that is built into our environmental social impact assessment management plan,” Cole explained.
Health, Wellness and Environment Minister – and Member of Parliament for the area – Sir Molwyn Joseph said the project marks the beginning of a transformation for the flood-prone area.
“The clearing will start at the Valley Road and winds its way through Cashew Hill and ends in two ponds behind the Antigua State College. This will relieve the flooding and, while we are at it, we will take the opportunity to rebuild drains that were built years ago and cannot take the volume of water that flows through the community,” the minister said.
He added that the project had started in 2007 but was hit by a delay and the Department of Environment had to resubmit its proposal in 2015. The estimated timeframe for completion is nine months.