Over 3,000 residents of the Belize River Valley now have access to clean water. Residents have been suffering immensely for years having to live off river water and now all that has changed because an extensive water system has been installed. Today a ceremony was held in Scotland Halfmoon Village to officially inaugurate the water system in the area. The residents told us this system will significantly improve the quality of their lives.
The Water project was funded by a $6.96 million dollar loan from the CDB. The government and BWS contributed as well. All 9 villages in the Belize River Valley area are benefiting from this system.
Today, after two years of comprehensive infrastructural works, the Belize River Valley Water System was officially launched in the community of Scotland Half-moon. It’s a long awaited project which ensures that all households in nine communities of the River Valley will have total access to potable water. The funding was jointly undertaken by the Caribbean Development Bank, the Government of Belize and BWSL, and to say that the residents of the impacted area are ecstatic would be an understatement. Mike Rudon was in Scotland Halfmoon and has the story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
Water gushing from a row of metal faucets…no big deal to most – probably, but to approximately three thousand residents of nine communities in the Belize River Valley, this is sheer heaven – a dream come true.
Clinton Rhaburn, Chairman, Flowers Bank
“Man when I wake up and I go ina mi bathroom, I feel like I dah wah king now because it is so easy. And if it wasn’t on account of the United Democratic Party and the government, I think we mi wah still have to di back ahn pan we head, haul ahn ina vehicle and back ahn pan horseback.”
Daphne McFadzean, Chair, Willows Bank
“On behalf of Willows Bank Village and by extension the Belgrave Community, I would like to thank all the stakeholders involved in having this come to fruition for us. It is something that is long-awaited and we are thankful.”
Fifty-two miles of pipe networking six hundred and five households – this facility is a pumping station with a generator and reservoir. It’s connected to the Belize District system and to a well and secondary pumping station in Lemonal as a backup, ensuring a reliable flow of potable water for residents of the nine Belize River Valley communities, from Flowers Bank to Rancho Dolores.
Alvan Haynes, C.E.O., BWS
“This entire nine villages coming in from Boom, because there were some areas of Boom all the way back to Rancho Dolores, Isabella, St. Paul’s Bank, Willow’s Bank, will now have piped, potable water into their house. Before, this area, whenever dry season they were out of water, they had to back water from the river or out of wells – now they will have water into their homes twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year – bathrooms, showers, washing machines. This community is now in the twenty-first century in terms of that, so the facilities for water usage, health, cooking is all there now. They’re on the map.”
The man getting all the glory on this historic day is Area Representative Edmond Castro. He started lobbying for this project in 2008 and while it may have taken some time, the long delay is now water under the bridge.
Edmond Castro, Area Rep., Belize Rural North
“All the villages in the Belize River Valley, I could go through the horror stories of not getting water. And even before I got elected in 2007, I used to provide a truck to come and deliver water for the people in the Belize River Valley area. The truck carries three thousand gallons and you can image four-five thousand people di share three thousand gallons and we have to repeat that on a daily basis. Very expensive, very costly for them that have to use a pickup to full a drum of water that may cost them as much as ten dollars for a drum of water. Now they can get a thousand gallons in their home at their convenience for probably nine, ten dollars. So this is a big move. June tenth, 2015, will go down in history.”
Winford Broaster, Double Head Cabbage
“It is a very big burden off my shoulder because whenever time the dry season is upon us, that’s the time my phone continues to ring. Mister Broaster, the water truck di pass through and ih noh di stop dah Double Head. I di miss out. Mister Castro only give special people water. Now that is no longer a problem because everybody ina Belize River Valley have access to potable drinking water.”
Jacklyn Cassasola, Chair, St. Paul’s Bank
“I would just like to say thanks to everybody that made this possible. I am from St. Paul’s Bank and we would like to say thanks for the water system. We will enjoy it.”
Residents will pay a minimal fee, between ten and twenty dollars for normal usage, and the hope is that the water will be such a godsend that customers won’t think twice to pay up.
“We’ve done an education program to teach them about making sure the lines into their homes don’t have leaks, which is the main problem with new connections, and then based on their usage, their bill will reflect the actual usage. So far several of these communities have had water for the past three months and we’ve had no problem with people not paying their bill.”
According to Minister of Rural Development Godwin Hulse, if all goes as planned every community in the country should have water sooner, rather than later.
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Rural Development
“Seventeen that we have in the pipeline that we hope to finish. They have either a combination of rural water systems fully or hand-pumped systems. We have five villages only in this country that we don’t have any kind of system at all that we’re trying to compete hopefully before my term is ended and we could say that every single village has some kind of water. There have been several programs – several programs. There have been programs that put in water through SIF. There have been programs that put in water like this through BWSL. There have been programs that put in unitary systems because the village is too small. There have been programs that put in hand-pumps. But the idea is that everybody wah gat water.”
The project, at inception, was projected at a cost of approximately eight million dollars. Mike Rudon for News Five.