Santo Domingo grapples with historic flooding and inadequate drainage system
Santo Domingo.- In November 2022, Santo Domingo was hit by unprecedented rainfall, revealing critical inadequacies in its storm drainage system. The city experienced severe flooding, leading to significant damage and a tragic loss of life. One year later, the situation repeated, with even more devastating effects, prompting a national mourning period.
The current state of the city’s drainage system, covering only 25-35% of the area, has become a pressing concern. Waldys Taveras, Executive Director of the Commonwealth of Greater Santo Domingo, noted the alarming lack of stormwater channels in most parts of the city. He pointed out that many existing drainages are interrupted by informal settlements and infrastructure, leading to a risk of sewage overflow.
Experts consulted on this issue support President Luis Abinader’s commitment to addressing Santo Domingo’s storm drainage challenges. Teodoro Tejada, former president of the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors (Codia), criticized the 40-year neglect of storm drainage by successive governments. He suggested a sectorized approach to the problem, starting with the National District.
Tejada also recommended reconnecting the drainage system built by the Office for the Reorganization of Transport (Opret) in 2009. He argued for expanding this system to other critical areas of the city, like Winston Churchill, to alleviate flooding in various neighborhoods.
The former deputy executive director of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (Indrhi) suggested that constructing additional scuppers in low-lying areas could significantly mitigate the issue, complementing the 860 existing ones.
Urban planner Marcos Barinas highlighted the lack of political action on previously proposed solutions, despite the availability of studies like the mid-90s “Storm Drainage Master Plan for Santo Domingo.” He emphasized the need for urgent action, considering the city’s planning for the next 15 to 20 years and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events.
The situation calls for a collaborative effort, with shared responsibility between society and authorities, to reorganize territory and implement effective solutions to Santo Domingo’s pressing storm drainage problem.