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May 11, 2023

An Engineering Solution to Annual Flooding in Belize City

The perennial issue of flooding near downtown Belize City’s is being solved with an eleven million dollar pumping station. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Belize City Council, has been working for the past five years to construct the pumping station in the Yarborough community. The project is a part of I.D.B.’s Climate Vulnerability Reduction Program and is nearing completion. It is expected that, once fully up and running, much of the annual flooding occurrences near the downtown area will be alleviated. News Five’s Paul Lopez takes a closer look.

 

Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez

This massive structure is a pumping station. It is downtown Belize City’s solution to its perennial flooding issue.

 

Works on the structure began in 2018 and is expected to be completed within the next three months. All that is left to be installed are four screw pumps that are being shipped from a company called Landustrie in the Netherlands.

 

Evondale Moody

Evondale Moody, Chief Engineer, MIDH

“As you are aware we have three canals in that area. We have East Canal which comes from the Haulover Creek, along Publics towards Caesar Ridge. We also have Collet Canal which also originates from the Haulover Creek along the fish market on Vernon Street and then it continues straight towards the Caesar Ridge Road Bridge and then you have North Creek Canal which comes from the Central American Boulevard area and connects to Collet Canal. The three canals connect at Kut Avenue and thereabout. The idea with the pumping station is for us to get rid of the water in that canal as quickly as we can so that it could relieve the water that is overtopping on the side road and side streets.”

 

In October 2021, Belize City received over four inches of rain, leaving many low-lying areas in downtown Belize City under water. A case study done by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in 2015 found that there is an increase in the intensity and variability of rainfall in the last months of each year. The study found that these occurrences pose problems for Belize City which is already prone to flooding. We sat down with Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner.

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Mayor, Belize City

“It is never a good situation when you as a resident have to access out of your home and have to walk into water on your street. Sometimes you would have flooding in your yards. But, when you have to access public street and there is flooding then that brings a really tough pill for us to swallow for our residents and I am certain that with this new approach, and again the whole project is built on climate vulnerability reduction, trying to address the narrative on how we address flooding in different areas of the city.”

 

The pumping station is separated into three sections, an open canal, the area where the pumping mechanisms are housed, and a sedimentation basin. When the three canals in Belize City become inundated with floodwaters, these sluice gates located along each canal will be closed to prevent the continued flow of water from Haulover Creek. Simultaneously, the screw pumps will activate and work to quickly remove flood waters from within the canals into the sea. With over a hundred years of experience, Landustries says its screw pumps are the most durable and efficient in the world, quiet, and environmentally friendly.

 

Evondale Moody

“Yes it is the first time that we are implementing such an engineering feat in Belize. It is a first for us as well, but definitely we have seen it being implemented in other parts of the world. I think in New Orleans you also have it. We have also gotten reports where we have seen it in Italy because those are areas where you also have flooding issues. And, there are also other areas within Central America where it has been implemented.”

 

Bernard Wagner

“I am very comforted knowing that it is not something that is being trial run in Belize but it is something that has been tested both regionally and internationally already so, we are optimistic, very, very, optimistic.”

 

Chief Engineer Evondale Moody is optimistic that the pumping station will function to the benefit of residents in the event of an emergency. Mayor Bernard Wagner looks forward to the prospect of such a solution. But, a pumping station like this is not without its limitations, the greatest among them being the indiscriminate dumping of solid waste in city drains and the canals.

 

Evondale Moody

“We are dealing with the bigger picture itself which is the canal, and the secondary drains itself needs to be maintained routinely so that those drains are not clogged up. If it is clogged up and we are doing this major initiative for the canal and the water cannot get to the canal then it defeats the whole purpose. So, we have to get the buy-in from the council itself.”

 

Bernard Wagner

“This approach to alleviate flooding is not only a government issue, or a city council issue, or a ministry issue, it is all of us taking ownership of ensuring we make sure those drains in front of our property are properly clean. The city council will do its part. We have a robust drain cleaning mechanism in place, but we still need our residence to participate with us, become a partner with us. Practice the civic pride, don’t throw the big refrigerator, we have found refrigerators in our canals you know. Ensuring we don’t throw the mattress, the old stove or the old refrigerator in the canals. That type of behavior has to change, it has to change.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


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