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Jan 12, 2023

Land Clearing in Alta Vista Impacting Water Quality

Orlando Habet

On the topic of environmental impact assessment, residents of Alta Vista, in Stann Creek District, have raised concerns about water quality because of land clearing that has been taking place by a property owner. It was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Sustainable Development by area representative Rodwell Ferguson. Today, Minister Orlando Habet told the media that since the issue arose a month ago, several teams have been sent out to the area to investigate. He says that a private landowner has been planting in the vicinity and there was some level of erosion that contaminated a water source that is actually within his property. The ministry has been working with that individual to resolve the issue. Here’s how he explains it.


Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management

“He has been in Belize for about sixteen years; that’s my understanding. He has been planting teak and he is getting into coconut and he was clearing some land to plant his coconuts. The report we got says that he has fourteen thousand coconuts ready to plant – he already has the seedlings – and he has a large nursery with teak trees ready to plant. The report says that he had hired someone with a machine to make a road to give access to farmers in Alta Vista, but because of his absence, the person went beyond what he was supposed to do, caused some erosion. With the rains, water went into the dam where water is collected for feeding and providing water to the residents of Alta Vista. We are also made to understand that half of the residents of Alta Vista gets water from this dam. The dam is in the owner’s property so it is in his property, but it is owned and managed by the village council and the village water board. So what the Department of Environment did is because he needed environmental clearance because of the slope, the steepness, he was given a stop order and in the meantime, I think the water is now clearing up. But we asked him to collaborate with the community and he has promised to purchase a large water tank to be able to fill up the water from Billy Barquedier to supply water for the community. My understanding also is also from the people who manage Billy Barquedier that half of the supply of water for Alta Vista comes from that dam and the other half comes from Billy Barquedier. So it seems as if during the dry season that the water supply from that dam goes to minimal level and it is not good water. So it might be now that this has triggered for us to look at an alternative permanent water source.”

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