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Agronomist warns that more problems could arise at Clare Valley housing project

Agronomist warns that more problems could arise at Clare Valley housing project


Local agronomist Clive Bishop believes that the low and middle-income housing project in Clare Valley could have been better suited for a different location, than where it is currently situated.

“There are lands in Clare Valley, but not at that site. Not low or medium income housing for there.{{more}} It is not impossible to put a structure there, but you and I couldn’t have afforded it because the cost of putting up the basement alone would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Bishop told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday at his Campden Park home.

“There are lands to the east of the main road just below that ridge that you call Marlene Hill. There is a flat all below where the community centre is; the soil on those lands is completely different; that’s an alluvial soil, so the challenges would be different. Those are easy soils you can get a foundation built easily. I thought if they knew the soil was like that they would not have done it.”

The well-known agricultural expert has been vocal on the issue, since one of the houses located in the government housing development, belonging to Dr Katisha Douglas, collapsed last Friday afternoon.

Bishop, using studies from soil experts, documented in 1958 and 2006, pointed out why the location was not the most suitable, and according to the reports, the area was studied, and the conclusion was made on both occasions that the site was best suited and used for “shifting cultivation.”

“The site sampled was located near Anse Cayenne and was abandoned from food crop cultivation, the slope was about 15 degrees and the soil was rocky and bouldery, most of the area was uncultivated and in shrub vegetation….” the 2006 report written by Dr Nazeer Ahmad, said.

“Anse Cayenne happens to be the exact spot where that housing project is…. The only use of this land by the residents of Clare Valley over the centuries has been to… burn a coal pit there, and where you burn the coal pit you plant some food there… and the next season you use another spot and they do the same thing over….” Bishop explained.

He warned that more problems could arise if preventative measures were not taken, as he highlighted the immediate need for a proper drainage system in the area.

“I am not impressed at all at the drainage; the drainage is far from adequate; when you go there you will see that water percolates the whole land and runs down into the road and into the next property.

“I would recommend that no more houses be placed, especially in the higher areas, and proper drains be put at the top of the site that takes the water off the site and into some appropriate area, and at the same time, use the necessary soil and water management practices on the site, including putting guttering around the entire houses, take that volume of water from the roofs down through some PVC into a proper drain and out into a river which is at the bottom.

“There is an opportunity also to build some tanks to store this water, because the water could be used other than to drink, lots of domestic purposes.

“And then I would also say in areas where some of the yards can be paved, to prevent the water from going down, so you would have more run-off to keep the soil from becoming too saturated.”

Apart from individual housing plots, Bishop also suggested that the construction of apartment complexes be considered, stating the it was his belief that local building codes should be adjusted to suit the requirements of the population.

He said that he thought it was time that the authorities begin making use of “our vertical space.”(JJ)