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Sep 26, 2019

As B.N.N. Calls for Sustained New River Action, the Watershed Management Plan Gets Underway

The Belize Network of N.G.O.s says that pollution of the New River should be a wake-up call for Belize. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the B.N.N. applauded residents of Orange Walk for their activism saying that, “As a result of sustained public pressure, the relevant Government agencies have started to pay attention.” The B.N.N. also acknowledged the Department of the Environment’s efforts to address the problem, however, cautioned that trial measures must be properly studied so as not to worsen the condition of the river.  Today we spoke with N.G.O. Senator Osmany Salas, who also represents the “Friends of New River” on the New River Task Force. He says that there was a task force meeting held today in Orange Walk and they discussed a proposed watershed management plan.  Salas says the work to develop such a plan has started and they have received commitments from the University of Belize to assist. Here’s more from Salas.

 

On the Phone: Osmany Salas, N.G.O. Senator

“We complimented the efforts taking place now within the New River and that should serve as a serious wake-up call for us to pay attention to all our watersheds in the country. Water is life and it is a resource that we need to take care of and not take for granted. In relation to the pollution in the New River, yes, currently the DOE is trialing some remedial actions such as surface aerators. At a task force meeting that we had earlier today, they showed some evidence that surface aerators have helped to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the river somewhat. Not any huge progress, however, and I know different ideas have been mentioned that could be tried since the rains have not been coming. All we advised at the BNN is that while the actions could be well-intended they should be carefully studied because we don’t want to worsen the situation from what it is right now. We know that people living along the river have been suffering and schools have been affected from the high levels of hydrogen sulphide. It is only after some strong rains that some of that could be alleviated, although it doesn’t solve the problem. We also complimented the work towards the watershed management plan for the New River, which is a process that has already started and will involve multiple agencies and representatives from public and private sector and communities. I am happy to say that process has commenced and the University of Belize has offered to assist different components for the development of such a plan. What we started today at the task force meeting was a stakeholder analysis of the watershed to determine who all are stakeholders and what role they could play. So, we are happy that process is underway.”


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