Monday, April 15, 2024

2021 restoration efforts for the New River

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many aspects of our lives to a halt, but it certainly has not stifled the Department of the Environment’s (DOE) efforts in the long road to the restoration of the New River. Since the New River crisis came to light in mid-2019, the DOE has been continuously conducting water quality monitoring, monitoring industries and urban centers to ensure they are complying with the Environmental Laws of Belize and working in close collaboration with local authorities and the agricultural sector to implement actions to reduce runoff into the river. As it relates to compliance, 40 out of the 79 light industries in Orange Walk Town have improved their wastewater and greywater discharge from their facilities. The DOE has also ensured that ASR/BSI do their part by improving their wastewater treatment system and constructing cooling towers.

Important to note is that the development of an Integrated New River Watershed Management Plan will be finalized in October of this year. The plan will present other corrective actions that should be taken to protect the river. Also, the Department of the Environment has secured funding for 2 years of continuous water quality monitoring. The team will be out at the New River every month at the 20 sample points from the in-land Lagoon to the Corozal Bay collecting water samples. The DOE is also in the process of partnering with international researchers to intensify monitoring and research efforts in the New River.

The DOE, within the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management stresses that the restoration of the New River ecosystem health must be an integrated and collaborative process. The DOE has also reconvened the New River Task Force to contribute to these efforts and join in the collaborative approach to addressing this longstanding issue. The DOE therefore calls all stakeholders to engage with us to participate in the restoration process. For further information, please contact the Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria at 822-2819.

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