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Aug 14, 2013

Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink in Sarteneja

Sarteneja is a small village in the Corozal District, accessible by ferry from Corozal Town, or by dirt road from Orange Walk Town. With a population of about thirty-five hundred, the laid-back seaside community survives on its fishing industry and is also becoming very popular with tourists, primarily backpackers. But the tentative tourism potential of the picturesque and peaceful village is being threatened, and so is the quality of life of its residents. The threat is nothing as complicated as escalating crime or the traditional social ills which plague communities. The community is well known for it’s kinship with the sea, and yes there is water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Mike Rudon headed north and filed this story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

The entrance to Sarteneja is as welcoming as an oasis after forty miles of terrible road. But that’s where the oasis metaphor comes to an end, because there is no potable water in Sarteneja. There hasn’t been for the past six months, since the reverse osmosis pump broke down. According to village councilor Darnell Cruz, that’s when the Social Investment Fund stepped in and promised a new system.


Darnell Cruz

Darnell Cruz, Village Councilor

“At first, I got to know that well it was the first down payment for the reverse osmosis plant that was not done on time. After that, we were informed that whenever the reverse osmosis plant was ready to be shipped some samples of water were sent and the water that was sent was too salty and it would not have worked well with the new reverse osmosis plant. So that created another delay. We got to know that from there, probably by this end of September, the water should be, but that’s just a should. We are not sure yet of what will happen.”


With just a promise of potable water within the next two months, the villagers are forced to do what they have been doing for the past six months – rely on well water.


Johannes Perez

Johannes Perez, Vice Chairman, Village Council

“It is about half a year that we no got water by the system…only wells. About two months ago we throw chlorine in the wells so that it purifies the water cause people use it to drink too sometimes. We noh got water and we got a place weh sell water, Mister Hector, but three dollars a gallon for water.”


Mike Rudon

“When you say that the village noh have water; absolutely no water?”


Johannes Perez

“No water, no water. Six months ago and we still noh got no water.”


Mike Rudon

“So people just survive with the use of their wells? To cook, to drink, to bathe?”


Johannes Perez

“For everything we use it: to cook, bathe, for drinks and everything we use well water.”


This young boy was able to access well water to take home to his family, but there are those who do not have wells, and have no easy access to wells. And then there’s also the health concern.


Ana Marie Jones

Ana Marie Jones, Sarteneja Resident

“I got wah toilet noh right beside my well and I noh got support with water right now and I got bout five kids. My family need water. My family is poor and we lvie too far and when we go, no water.”


Apolonio Ramirez, Sarteneja Resident

Apolonio Ramirez

“We di take wah licking especially me weh got mi lee place yah. I have to borrow, beg water from the neighbors. I noh have well, I di rent this lee place yah. And where I live too, I noh have well so I have to deh bout dah the neighborhood di beg fi water. That is my big concern. The people here say dehn have wells, but eventually those wells will get damage. When it rains a lot here, it gets contaminated because the well dehn noh deep. The wells dah only about wah lee six feet, four feet, five feet and then water deh out. so yon oh di get good water.”


Ana Marie Jones

“I have to wash it every minute. So I done put my pipe but no water. How I wah get water to drink? I have to go and buy and sometimes the people dehn noh wash it all the time.”


Mike Rudon

“So how you wash it?”


Ana Marie Jones

“I put my Clorox in it. And I wash, my kids dehn wash it. this village needs a lot of help with water.”


Those residents and others have been hard hit by the lack of water. And so have the students of the four schools in the village.


Darnell Cruz

“That was a huge problem that we had there at the schools as teachers, parents; well everybody was affected by this. We had to find ways of getting a new pump. The problem with that is that the pump is there, but we have to be backing it every day. Every morning a teacher used to go and pump water and well that is time that we are taking from the children when that is supposed to be teaching time. It creates a huge problem. Whenever there is no water, the stench came out from the toilets and since we have classes adjacent to the toilets, it is a whole mess.”


If the Social Investment Fund is able to keep its promise, students and residents of the village will only have to endure another month, or maybe two, without potable water. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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2 Responses for “Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink in Sarteneja”

  1. mark Pech says:

    The same happens in my Village…..(Guinea Grass) Most of the people don’t have water during the day. We have to wait during the night to catch some. This incompetent water board here together with Mr. Ruben Campos don’t care about the villagers; Only about themselves. The worst is that the opposition Mr. Mai is no where to be seen either. Perhaps her can help. I wonder what he is doing with that $7000 he gets for his area????

  2. Al says:

    Oh my, is this the deep jungles of Africa. It is very sad to hear what these people are going through. How can a government not make provisions for the most basic necessities for its people.

    Until the people let their voices heard they will continue to be neglected while the politicians get richer. Remember these things when it is time to vote again.

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