Water for Jaffna: simple, brilliant plan from expat Lankan engineer

Reducing evaporating surface area of Vadamarachchi lagoon

A new project for water supply to Jaffna utilizing rainfall into the Vadmarachchi Lagoon with a surface area of 78 sq. km. was announced on Friday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Policy Development Office.

“The Project envisages making use of 20% of the annual rainfall in to the Vadamarachchi Lagoon with a surface area of 78 sq km. This project approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and the Chief Minister of Northern Province, is implemented under guidance of Vidya Jothi Eng. A.D.S Gunewardana, retired Secretary Ministry of Irrigation and retired Director of Irrigation,” a news release issued by the office said.

The Northern Development Committee, appointed by the Prime Minister, working out of the Policy Development Office, monitors implementation, it added.

The briefing note explained that in actual fact, there is a real loss of 1,250mm of annual rainfall through evaporation year after year has never been taken into water balance equation by experts who were engaged on this by GOSL.

“The Dutch and a number of British Government Agents have tried their hands at supplying water through the lagoon with little success. However, the specialists who were engaged with this matter have established one important fact. The lagoon can be leached under controlled conditions,” it said.

“Lately the Israeli, American, German and Australian consultants have carried out feasibility studies to supply water to Jaffna’s population. All these attempts were unsuccessful but now a Sri Lankan Engineer, Professor R.K. Guganeshrajah of Surrey University, has come up with the new proposal to prevent evaporation partly with a simple but brilliant engineering intervention by storing 20% of total rainfall on 78 sq km in a small tank of 10 sq km thereby reducing the surface area from which evaporation is taking place.”

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