General — 24 August 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
DOE to hold meeting about polluted New River

BELIZ CITY, Thurs. Aug. 22, 2019– For some time now, the New River in the Orange Walk District has been afflicted by high quantities of pollutants that have changed the color of its waters and caused the river to have a putrid smell. This week, the dramatically disturbing pictures of dead fish in the river began making their rounds in social media and also through traditional media.

The Department of the Environment recently conducted tests of the water and has confirmed that indeed, the New River has been affected by a condition called eutrophication.

Eutrophication results from the deposit of nutrients in the water, and these rich nutrients cause many aquatic plants to grow. The aquatic plants take oxygen from the water and this causes fish and other living organisms to die from oxygen starvation.

The condition of the New River, which is the lifeline for many people in the Orange Walk District, appears to have gotten worse due to the prolonged drought that is affecting some parts of the country, especially in the north.

This Friday night, there is a public discussion that is scheduled to take place in Orange Walk to address the condition of the New River.

Presently the factories along the banks of the river are said to be the primary cause of most of the eutrophication that is affecting the condition of the river.

Orange Walk Town Council deputy mayor, Ian Cal, told News5 yesterday about the massive fish kill that was observed in the river.

“I guess you have seen the pictures of what is happening in the New River. We have met with the Department of Environment several times and we know they have been in Orange Walk several times, meeting especially with BSI and other businesses around the river to find out and do analyses,” Cal said.

Cal went on to say, “We have not gotten any report from them specifically as to their findings. When they visited last week and we spoke to them together with other stakeholders, they were not authorized to give out that information as yet. Now they have gotten that authorization, so we sent them a letter requesting them to come to Orange Walk and give us some answers. At the end of the day what the people are demanding is answers.

What the Orange Walk public is saying is that we don’t to close down any company; we have to find a solution, so as to not sit down every year and go back to the same process again. So this Friday at the Gala Lounge, the Department of Environment is holding a public meeting and we are encouraging everyone to attend, even those in the surrounding villages to attend.”

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