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Sep 3, 2019

Heavy rains clear some areas along the New River

Earlier today, a News Five team headed north for an update on the New River. As we have been reporting, the health of the river has deteriorated significantly overtime due in large part due to harmful substances and agriculture and human waste that have been emptied into the river. Fish have not been able to survive in the polluted waters and the impact on tourism has been felt. The river is no way close to its normal state but the rains in the past few days, has helped, at least in a portion of the river. Here is Dalila Ical with a report.


Dalila Ical, Reporting

The health of the New River in the Orange Walk District has been at its worst this year. For several weeks, the ecosystem has been slowly suffocating.


The Department of the Environment has noted that several factors are at play, primarily agriculture, human waste, and industrial discharges.


But the current drought has also compounded the situation, triggering pollutants to wreak further havoc in the already slow moving river.


Over the last couple days though, there has been some rainfall leading to small but notable changes at some points along the New River. Here at Lamanai Eco Tours, all the surface of the river has cleared.


Errol Cadle, Proprietor, Lamanai Eco Tours 

Errol Cadle

“If you look around today, you can notice how beautiful the river is, all shiny. The dark brown came back and this is what we knew would have happened once the rains started. For the last few days we have been getting some good showers of rain and that will help clear out all this mess that we have in the river. I’ve been noticing the river from this morning and I saw some tarpons already. I was over in that area this morning looking around. I’m seeing a couple little fishes moving around already which is a good sign that our river is getting back health in this area so far.”


A few miles down the river, not much has changed. The section of the river that flows adjacent to River Side Street in Orange Walk Town is now milky brown. The pungent odour remains.


Raul Pelayo, Proprietor, Lamanai River Side Retreat

“The only change that I can tell you is that the mess, wherever it is coming from came a little faster because there is now a little current. If we have a longer rain or a longer rainy season right now or a great downpour then this will probably flow away but it is just going to affect people down the river in the north. That’s all it will do.”


The changes are being noted by the Department of the Environment as it keeps monitoring the situation.


Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer

Martin Alegria

“The temperature rise because of the drought. Lack of water and the high temperature just basically exacerbated that situation that till now we are seeing, the past two three months, the effects that we have never seen before because of the climate that has changed a little. Yes, I think we have had, I think Saturday was a big rain that came down in Orange Walk and we have seen a big difference between Sunday and yesterday I was there in Orange Walk and we have seen a nice brown. It’s not that green, yellow green and so on. Now it is brown but it is still a polluted environment.”


Residents living along the river have continuously complained about the unbearable smell and that concern is now compounded as hundreds of children are back in class in at least one school that is located a few hundred yards away from the river in Orange Walk Town.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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