Third EIA held for North Ambergris Caye Water System and Sewage Collection and Treatment
Friday, February 12th, 2016
The third consultation for the North Ambergris Caye Water System and Sewage Collection and Treatment Project was held on Thursday, February 4th at the Sunbreeze Conference Room. The presentation included the revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies presented by the owner of Tunich Nah Consultancy (TNCE), Jose “Pepe” Garcia, as well as observation from Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) and Department of Environment (DOE) personnel. The consultation proved positive, and if approved, the $60 million project will see much needed water and sewage services being installed in Northern Ambergris Caye.
The project was developed due to the fact that Northern Ambergris Caye has neither water or sewer services and the area is experiencing an increase in both residential and commercial development. With funding from the Government of Belize (GOB), the project’s EIA was completed by Dillon Consulting Limited (DCL), a Canadian consulting firm in conjunction with TNCE. Work on the project commenced back in 2010, and after this consultation, the EIA report is up for revision by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) before a final decision is taken by the DOE.
According to Garcia, the EIA has proven to support the proposed design for the project. “Following the EIA we have identified adequate land for the development of the water and sewage plants. The area recommended is west of Mato Lagoon on Northern Ambergris Caye, and BWSL has managed to acquire 748 acres in that general area. From this area, water distribution and sewage collection will be serviced along the coastline between Palmero Point and the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge,” explained Garcia. The project is expected to see the construction of a reverse osmosis desalination water treatment plant and water pump station, potable water transmission and distribution mains, gravity sewers and force main with pump stations and sewage treatment facility.
The EIA also looked closely at the effects the project would have on the local environment both in the short and long term. “Taking into consideration the surrounding fragile ecosystem of the island, the project had to be carefully planned and designed. An environmental monitoring plan is vital for any development project. The monitoring plan made for this project will help in assessing the effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures and in providing a focus for the scripting of an Environmental Compliance Plan by the DOE. Even though there will be some changes to the surrounding environment, it is noteworthy to consider the impacts that the surrounding ecosystem would endure of the project is not implemented,” said Garcia. He went on to explain that the lack of a sewage collection facilities is currently causing pollution and damaging the pristine waters of the area.
The project is expected to greatly benefit the tourism product as the area is seeing significant business development. The accessibility of water distribution and sewage collection will improve the quality of service offered by resorts in the area, as well as residents who live in the area. Once the project’s EIA is approved, work on North Ambergris Caye Water System and Sewage Collection and Treatment plant is expected to start immediately.
Copies of the EIA report are available at the San Pedro Library, Hol Chan Marine Reserve Office in San Pedro, Caye Caulker Village Council Office, and the office of the DOE in Belmopan. The EIA report is also available on the DOE’s website: http://doe.gov.bz/index.php/eias.
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