Application Note

Preliminary Assessment Of Water Quality In Riviera Grise Near Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Source: YSI, a Xylem brand

The Riviera Grise drains water from the Cul-de-Sac watershed, Haiti, which covers most of the rural areas along the flood plains and areas that extend into steep hillsides. It also covers urban areas of Port-Au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. The river drains approximately 290 km2 of watershed area and attains a maximum flow 475 m3/s during its peak flow and a minimum flow 0.3 m3/s during drought conditions (US COE, 1999). The head waters start in the Massif De la Selle mountains and during peak flows, the river discharges into the Gulf of Gonave in the Carribean sea, which serves as the natural harbor for the port city, Port-Au-Prince.

The hillsides were once covered with vegetation and perennial crops such as coffee. Subsistence farming was practiced on the plains to grow crops such as sugar cane, banana, and mangoes. Deforestation in the hills over a period of time between 2000 and 2010, along with intensive agriculture, causes extreme erosion during heavy rainfall. Sediments resulting from erosion are carried across plains and discharged into the river. This has led to severe stream bank erosion and sedimentation of the river (Hylkema, 2011). The entire Port-Au-Prince area was catastrophically affected by a huge earthquake January 12, 2010 resulting in estimated deaths of more than 230,000 in the capital city. This study evaluated subsequent deterioration of the river after the earthquake and potential impacts on stream quality.

The study was conducted as part of a larger project aimed at providing assistance to the State University of Haiti Faculty of Agronomy, Medicine and Veterinary Sciences (FAMV) in rebuilding its capacity in water quality analysis. A team of scientists and engineers from the International Water Resources Management at Central State University (CSU), Ohio visited the university as volunteers through assistance from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Farmer to Farmer Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.