Features — 05 April 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Santa Familia’s drinking water problems

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 31, 2016–The dry season is upon us and already one community is feeling the effects. The Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, in a “public advisory” dated March 30, informed villagers of Santa Familia that they should “treat water before using it for drinking by adding one tablespoon of Clorox to five gallons of water, mix completely and leave for at least thirty minutes before using, or boil water at a rolling boil for at least one minute.”

The coordinator of initiatives that fall under the Rural Development portfolio, Ernest Banner, told Amandala that there is a “rudimentary water supply in Santa Familia” that is provided through the pumping of water from a well to a reservoir, and from this reservoir the water is distributed to villagers’ yards and homes.

However, due to the dry season, there isn’t sufficient water in the well, and so the authorities are using the river, to supply the reservoir.

We were made to understand that chlorine will be added at the reservoir and that the double treatment of the water, first at the reservoir and then in the homes of villagers who follow the instructions of the advisory, should not render it harmful to the health of these villagers.

Senior Public Health Inspector Mark Bernard told Amandala, “We will be monitoring the river water going into the reservoir, ensuring that the amount of chlorine added to the water is the acceptable amount, which is 0.5 parts per million.”

Also, they will be visiting the villagers to educate them on the use of the water, Bernard said.

While Bernard was unable to say what percentage of the villagers use this water, he did assure us that those villagers who do so are the minority, since most of the villagers buy purified water.

For those who do use the water, they can expect to be treating the water as advised up until the middle of May, since that is when the dry season should come to an end. According to the National Meteorological Service, the dry season runs from the end of February to the middle of May.

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