Dr. Gomes of SLIIT is currently involved in research regarding the ecological rehabilitation of concreted stream networks in Hong Kong. As co-investigator of a project funded by the Environment and Conservation fund Hong Kong, Dr. Gomes has been a part of this initiative for almost five years to-date. In his work so far, he has discovered that some of his findings could have direct implications and applicability to canals in Colombo.
Due to the fact that canals are man-made, they should constitute a disturbance to the environment. However, if the canal is old, it is typically considered to be a natural part of the environment, as is the case with centuries’ old paddy fields. Such canals are thought to have ecological values and functionalities similar to streams, which is what needs to be done with the canals in Colombo.
As the history of any developed country has revolved around the concept of ‘develop now, clean up later’, when it comes to aspects such as urban waterways, priorities revolve around economic development. This means that only areas such as flood control have been looked into: one of the reasons why the waterways of most cities of developed countries are straight and in some cases, completely concerted. Though concrete waterways help mobilise the disposal of water from urban areas due to less friction, without sediment and proper instream physical habitats, they would support only a fraction of flora and fauna of natural streams. In addition, water quality is very poor.
Dr. Gomes on re-shaping urban waterways of Sri Lanka
A few decades ago, initiatives were taken in developed countries to rehabilitate the lotic waters such as streams and canals by improving their eco-hydraulic functions. It should also be noted that in many urban areas, lotic waters prove a suitable space for recreational activities, which is something urban dwellers tend to naturally expect with economic development. Interestingly, many countries currently view concreted waterways as a nuisance, thus prompting action by injecting finances to elevate them into more natural and self-sustainable entities. Therefore, it is important that these developments are borne in mind when city planning, to ensure the consequences of activities suffered by developed countries in the past will not repeat themselves. It is essential to integrate sustainable canal design practices that would harmonise flood control and ecological rehabilitation in our canal rehabilitation programmes.
Dr. Gomes’ current work in Sri Lanka also includes deriving optimum conditions that would help set a reference condition for such man-made waterways, a vital aspect in setting rehabilitation goals. Together with his co-workers, samples covering most of the canals in Colombo and canals in its suburbs such as the Talangama canal, are obtained. He also added that though the work is exhaustive, the support received from his team is immense. Additionally, the field work will be followed by physical modelling, with the final step including numerical simulations for the purpose of studying extreme scenarios.
Dr. Gomes especially mentioned and thanked the National Research Council of Sri Lanka, for providing the necessary funds for his work, and believes that the findings of this study would be immensely helpful in re-shaping urban waterways of Sri Lanka.
SLIIT has an honoured history, and a continued thirst for achievement characterised by the tireless pursuit of accreditations and collaborations. We are also the first Sri Lankan institute to be accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology UK, for Information Technology degrees. Our degrees are also approved by the University Grants Commission under the Universities Act. The institute is a Member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and International Association of Universities (IAU). Offering a wide range of study areas including Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees in Computing, Business, Engineering, Architecture and Quantity Surveying, SLIIT also connects people both locally and globally. We have more than 50 industry partners, and collaborative agreements with foreign universities to broaden our horizons.
Since its inception in 1999, SLIIT has successfully established an environment that is conducive to learning throughout all its campuses and centres. The institute has two campuses in Malabe and Colombo and also four regional centres in Matara, Kandy, Kurunegala and Jaffna.