Years of the dams holding back water, releasing it, holding it back, has naturally led to massive erosion. The river banks have turned to mud. Trees continue to rot and fall into the river and come downstream. With the heavy rains last week, enormous amounts of this rotting vegetation and sedimentation are washing downstream, flowing into the Belize River and eventually to the sea.
The turbidity (the dark muddy water) does not allow for sunlight to penetrate to the river bottom, which means the river is not getting oxygen. What is happening to the fish and vegetation that need oxygen?
The flood waters of the river contaminated our water system to the extent that there was no water in San Ignacio, Santa Elena and surrounding areas, including Esperanza, for over 32 hours. Some customers at higher elevations experienced longer periods without water or had low water pressure.
No health, no safety, no cheaper electricity — only our poor dying river. Thanks to Fortis-BECOL, the river that used to sustain us is slipping away.
And still we are told nothing about the condition of the river, the safety of the drinking water or the health of the river system. The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) has been requesting information on the water quality testing being done and on the levels of mercury in the fish for months, and we have received no information.
How long will it take for us to receive any information on the condition of the river since last week’s events? Next year? Can we drink the water? Eat the fish?
Citizens have a right to this information, and we urge everyone to ask questions and demand answers for the health and safety of ourselves, our families and the environment.
Candy and George Gonzalez,
for The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy