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Dec 31, 2019

La Isla Carinosa Sin Agua on New Year’s Eve

Tonight, residents and visitors on Caye Caulker are doing their best to distribute a limited supply of potable water, amid a crisis situation where there is a severe shortage of water from the utility company.  It has been two and half days since a shaft broke down at the water treatment plant and things on the island have been plunged into chaos.  To make matters worse, there was an extended power outage on Monday night making it even more miserable for folks on the southern end of Caye Caulker.  Tonight, we begin with coverage from the island where the local chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the village council called a press conference to share their frustration.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Demand for water on Caye Caulker has not exceeded the storage capacity at BWS’ reservoir, despite significant growth and development in recent years.  The island, however, is tonight faced with a crisis.  There is a shortage of water and on this occasion, perhaps the biggest night of the year, residents and businesses are rationing limited supplies that are being made available to them.  The impact, nonetheless, is most felt in the tourism industry.


Carlos Macu

Carlos Macu, Employee, Chinatown Hotel

“We have had guests who have cancelled already and then it affects us because we have bad reviews now due to that, right.”


The issue, according to Belize Water Services Limited, is the failure of a shaft at its reverse osmosis water treatment plant on Sunday.  The breakdown has led to the rapid depletion of one hundred and fifty thousand gallons of water and work to restore normalcy is ongoing.


Dave Pascascio

, Operations Manager, B.W.S.L.

“What we did yesterday was to dispatch a team out there to retrofit a shaft, a drive shaft that was made on the ground and installed and we were up and running with the plant at 9:45 p.m. last night.  We immediately started to distribute water even though there was no storage.  We were just putting out into the distribution the same volume we were producing to ensure that people get water immediately.”


Seleny Villanueva-Pott, chairlady of Caye Caulker Village Council, also provided an update on the situation this morning, sharing with the media various measures that have been put in place by the utility company to alleviate the problem.


Seleny Villanueva-Pott

Seleny Villanueva-Pott, Chairlady, Caye Caulker Village Council

“In terms of water, we were also told that the shaft was fixed and everywhere on the island is experiencing a low pressure and B.W.S.L. consciously turned it on low because they don’t want to have a gouging of water and they explained that the reservoir has to be at a certain level before they can turn on a constant supply to the entire island.  They did also confirm that they will be trucking in water to supply the island until it is [no longer] needed.  So I hope that is a reassurance of us having water throughout the weekend because we’re heading, well it’s New Year’s Eve.”


The interruption is the result of the shaft breaking, despite prior knowledge that it was not properly aligned.


Dave Pascascio

“Immediately upon installation I got the report that there was something wrong with the shaft, not the installation because they drew it to my attention.  They tried to stabilize all the vibration in it but it was just not properly aligned, the shaft itself.  You have to understand that this thing is a hundred and thirteen inches long and only three-quarter inch in diameter.  So it only takes a little bit to deform it, right, and we’ve had it in storage for quite some time.”


According to one hotel employee, complaints from visitors, particularly at the height of the tourist season, include a lack of water to shower with.


Carlos Macu

“Americans especially, they like hot water, you know, and that’s the first thing they ask and, you know, they went to the hotel and said, “Oh, I went to this hotel and we don’t have water to flush, to brush our teeth, to bathe.”  And especially to bathe is the main thing for them because, you know, it’s humid.  This area, all of this, we’re in the tropics and they always want to shower.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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