Headline — 10 August 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
The New River is polluted

So says the Department of the Environment

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 8, 2019– On Monday, members of the media were taken on a tour of the New River in the Orange Walk District. The tour was organized by concerned citizens of Orange Walk Town, who are of the view that the Department of the Environment (DOE) has not been doing enough to address the condition of the New River.

Last month, the DOE conducted tests of the waters of the New River, and the results have confirmed that the river is polluted and in danger of getting worse if preventative measures are not taken.

The tests conducted by the DOE have found that the New River is afflicted with eutrophication, which is responsible for the green color that the river currently has, and this has been attributed to several causes.

Eutrophication involves the deposit of nutrients in the water and in turn, these nutrients are responsible for the discoloration of the water and produce algae, which are harmful to the living organisms in the water.

The Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Fisheries, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr. Percival Cho, explained to News5 how the process of eutrophication is affecting the New River.

Here is how Dr. Cho explained the test results from the waters of the New River: “What they found is that the river is being affected in more than one way. The first one is that there is high nutrient content concentration in the waters. The nutrients that they tested for are nitrogen and, I believe, phosphorous as well,” he said.

“The other factor is that the water temperature is higher than normal,” he further stated.

“Also, besides that, there seems to be effluents running off the town as well as other establishments along the banks of the river. So that is also feeding in nutrients from waste water and other runoff,” Dr. Cho stated.

“Then they tested in the water itself; they tested for oxygen, and that is rather low. One of those factors is combining to produce this phenomenon known as eutrophication, so that is why the water looks green. The sources, of course, of this runoff, is like I said, the town, establishments along the river, agriculture runoff into the river from agricultural lands upstream, and then BSI, as well,” Cho went on to note.

“Everybody is focusing on the BSI component. Previously, they had dealt with it with BSI; [we had] recommended some adjustments to the water that BSI releases into the river, which is of course treated and settled and so forth, [before being put] in to the river. The main concern back then was the temperature of the water that goes into the river, and it was a bit high,” he said.

Now that the DOE has identified the problem that is killing the New River, it remains to be seen what measures will be put in place to arrest the problem.

 

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Deshawn Swasey

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