BWSL presents water system improvements on Ambergris Caye
Friday, May 24th, 2019
Ambergris Caye’s issues with low water pressure and shortages are expected to slowly become a thing of the past as Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) continues to heavily invest in improving water services on the island. Since acquiring the shares of the Cayman-based water company, Consolidated Water Belize Limited (CWBL), BWSL now has full control of the water supply system and is able to make the necessary investments to fulfil the demands of the island. On Wednesday, May 22nd, at an inauguration south of San Pedro Town, the company presented their accomplishments and future plans for the water infrastructure of the island, announcing the near completion of a second, million gallon- tank, and a completely separate water and sewage system for northern Ambergris Caye.
Prior to acquiring CWBL, every peak tourism season, residents and visitors have endured extended periods of low water pressure and shortages. On several occasions, BWSL explained that the water production from Consolidated was not meeting the island’s demand, particularly during peak periods like Easter Holidays. BWSL claimed that for years they faced the same issue with the supplier. However, CWBL indicated that they could produce more water if they had received such request, but were only producing water according to their contract. As the situation escalated, BWSL began negotiating with the Cayman Company for a possible buy over. It was until February of this year, that both companies reached an agreement and BWSL took over the company for a total of US$7 million dollars.
BWSL Chairman, Alberto August stated that one of the reasons for the ceremony was to officially announce the acquisition of Consolidated Water, which was funded via a low interest loan from the Caribbean Development Bank. According to him, the total amount of borrowed was US$8.5 million, and the US$1.5 million balance will be used to further upgrade the water system. August said that another project for the island will be the investment of BZ$8.25 million dollars for the expansion of water and waste water services within downtown San Pedro, including San Mateo and Boca del Rio. He explained that the San Mateo Area has a pipe system that does not have the capacity to properly distribute water. Thus, they are working on switching to thicker pipes for better water distribution in that area.
August further added that BWSL will be purchasing a BZ$17 million dollar Reverse Osmosis plant, which will be arriving on the island in late July or early August of 2019. He then explained that the island will see a drastic decrease in water shortages. “We are spending BZ$6 million for the construction of a millio- gallon tank that, upon completion, will bring up our storage capacity on the island to 2.3 million gallons,” said August. The tank is expected to be delivered by October of this year and when it is operational along with the new Osmosis plant, they are expecting to produce around 1.3 million gallons of water every day. “This investment was done through the realization that we must keep up with the growth of the island,” he said. “For too long, our customers on the island were rationing water as they face low water pressure or no water at all. This was when the company was only producing 300,000 gallons of water a day, and then slightly went up until our current, nearly- 800,000 gallons per day, and as I mentioned, it will increase by the end of this year to address the issue of low pressure and water shortages.” August mentioned that the 2.3 million gallons they expect to produce by next year will be only for southern Ambergris Caye and downtown San Pedro, along with its surrounding sub-divisions. According to him in 2020, BWSL will start a BZ$60 million dollar investment in northern Ambergris Caye for the construction of a separate water plant and sewage for that area. He added that as time gets closer, further details will be made available.
The issue with the constant development and the increase in demands was brought up to the presenters. The Chairman indicated that they will keep up with growth pace, and in the case that more hotels are built, they will simply increase the production by installing additional water plants. However, business establishments (hotels) are advised to have a backup plan such as water cisterns in case of emergencies.
After August’s presentation, New Horizon Seventh Day Adventist School students performed for the audience. Immediately after, August joined Area Representative Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr., and Mayor Daniel Guerrero for a ribbon- cutting ceremony. Heredia then delivered the keynote address. He pointed out that the rapid growth of the island has caused challenges to the infrastructure. “Over the 10 years that I have been in government, I have maintained a pro-active approach toward infrastructure development on the island,” said Heredia. “This government has ensured that La Isla Bonita remains equipped and has access to the systems that it needs in order to thrive.” Heredia added that the development of the island’s infrastructure not only benefits the community, but also provides many jobs for the islanders. “These projects have the aim of improving the lives of the residents and satisfying our visitors,” Heredia ended.
Mayor Guerrero commended BWSL, stating that such investments will improve the overall tourism product of the island. “The people of San Pedro are happy for the multi-million investment that has been made through the improvement to our water system in the short and medium term,” said Guerrero. He touched on the increase of the overnight arrivals, which triggers more development, increases demands on basic needs like access to water. Guerrero commended BWSL on planning ahead to keep up with the island’s growth.
At the end of program, Chief Executive Office, Alvan Haynes thanked everyone involved in their accomplishments. He also thanked everyone who attended the ceremony and also took the opportunity to thank the island community for their patience. Afterwards, invited guests were served food and refreshments and given a tour of the facilities.
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