LIBERIA: EPA releases Kpatawee Disaster’s Report

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia has released a comprehensive investigative report on recent flooding at Kpatawee Waterfall in Bong County, Central Liberia.

On September 2, 2023, the Kpatawee wetland, which is home to a resort, “the Jalk Enterprise, and several other towns and villages, was hit by flood events.
The unfortunate event attracted the EPA following notification as well as calls for the government to probe the situation.
While consolidating a response effort, the agency dispatched a team of environmental inspectors to the affected area on September 5, 2023, to conduct a preliminary assessment of the situation.
The findings of the initial report, which was mostly observatory and based on random interviews with affected parties, further called for a detailed investigation to assess the cause of the flood, with pending remedial action that needs to be initiated.
Against this backdrop, the EPA dispatched a team of environmental technicians from Monrovia who joined their counterparts on September 8, 2023, to undertake a detailed investigation of the flood disaster.

Following the investigation, the team concluded that torrential rains in several parts of Liberia continue to result in different waves of flooding impacts, as observed between August and September.

“This has also been the case of the Kpatawee wetland, where inundated waters of the St. Paul River via its tributaries resulted in overflow and subsequently elevated levels of the Kpatawee waterfall and creek beyond normal flow patterns,” the EPA said in a final investigative report posted on its website.

Continuing, the EPA said, “This was further exacerbated because of the limitation of free flow downstream of Kpatawee as the result of obstruction caused by inter-grown trees and a narrow channel, and hence the deposition of detrital materials.”

Another factor that caused the flooding was the damage to the irrigation pipe constructed for water supply and control.

The Agency said that there is a lack of real-time online hydro-meteorological monitoring of the St. Paul River to serve as an alert for early warning and detection, which could have helped minimize the impact of the flood situation and avert future flood occurrences.

The EPA has asked the management of Jalk Enterprise to develop an environmental management plan for this riparian ecosystem by hiring a third-party independent environmental consultant.
The management plan should also include separate studies for the widening of the channel to ensure the free flow of water downstream, the EPA mandated.
Jalk Enterprise is a service firm that entered into a caretaker agreement with the local government to manage Kpatawee as tourist site for picnicking, hosting meetings, workshops, retreats, among other.
The Agency also recommended that Jalk Enterprise works in collaboration with the county administration, the Ministry of Agriculture, and community dwellers to ensure timely repair of the damaged irrigation pipe and open the water channel to the rice field.
According to the EPA, the repair of the pipe will assist in redirecting the future occurrence of flood water from accumulating at Kpatawee to other low-lying land, as was usually done in the past.
The EPA is also recommending that the Ministry of Mines and Energy Hydrological Services Division construct a real-time water monitoring station at Kpatawee, considering its potential as a tourist designation and a major RAMSAR site of international importance.

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