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Jan 29, 2020

Another Severe Drought May Affect New River in 2020

A more severe drought has been forecasted for 2020 and it is expected that the extended dry weather may once again have adverse effects on the New River.  In light of the catastrophe that resulted in a massive fish kill along that waterway last year in the north, a taskforce led by the Department of the Environment is planning and preparing for what lies ahead.  According to C.E.O., Dr. Percival Cho, the working group met last week to apprise the ministry on steps that will be taken to control the volumes of runoff from agriculture and urban waste.


Percival Cho

Dr. Percival Cho, C.E.O., Ministry of Environment

“We have received some predictions from the regional climate change center that Belize and several other countries are likely, very likely going to experience severe drought for an extended period of time that is predicted to be longer than last year.  So already that gives us a mandate to be very much more aggressive with preparations for any possible repeat of the eutrophication event we saw last year.  So what do those preparations look like?  Initially, the taskforce met last week and they had discussed around providing an update to the ministry, being myself and the minister so that we are up to speed on what actions have been taken last year.  So one, that has been done.  Then two, we in discussion with them are considering proposing again some more aggressive measures to specifically look at controlling the volumes of effluence from point sources that we have identified that are going into the New River.  So with eutrophication as we had explained last year, when there is a lot of nitrogen runoff from agriculture fields and urban areas, coupled with a lot of organic input, say waste material, etc, you get a high level of anaerobic breakdown of these materials and they create a very toxic environment in the river.  So if we reduce either amounts of the nitrogen going in or the organic matter we should be able to see some level of positive impact.  But at the same time, we need to be prepared for any event.”

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