What’s happening to the sea on southern foreshore? It’s disappearing! That’s what residents have been telling is for the past two weeks – and we
thought maybe it had something to do with the cold front and all the north winds playing tricks with the tides. But, that’s not it. The problem
persists – and when we went there this morning, we saw that outside the seawall, there was a massive buildup of silt, so much so that where once there
was only sea and waves rolling into the seawall, now there’s only a thick buildup of silt pushing against the seawall. Residents in the area say they
have never seen it like this.
Experts tell us it’s probably the result of siltation buildup in the Belize harbor – which is famous for that. They say it needs a proper dredging by
the relevant authority.
But who is that authority? Well, there’s an international port right across form this at the Fort Street Tourism Village. And the silt buildup will
eventually affect the huge tenders that traffic to and from the village. As far as we know, it was to have been dredged by October of last year, but
the sight we saw would suggest that didn’t happen.
WE’LL keep following up on the story – but the Pelicans aren’t complaining, this evening we saw them getting easy pickings in the abnormal shoal.
Hon. Vega Will Look Into The Belize Harbor Phenomenon
Two weeks ago, we told you about the strange phenomenon at Southern Foreshore in Belize City. The sea bottom has completely silted up - and what used to be sea bottom is now a filthy silt beach, pushing up against the sea wall. It's persisted for weeks - and residents of the area tell us they've never seen it like that. What's behind it? And what can be done to fix it? Today, while we had the opportunity we asked Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega about it, and he said he's going to look into it:
Daniel Ortiz "We want to know the situation and is there any plan to deal with it because that's a major waterway."
Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture "I'm not aware of it. But since you mentioned it, I'll look into it."
We'll keep following up to find out what measures the authorities will take to fix this problem in this major waterway.
Dredging and Siltation: Harbor Siltation Needs 2M Dollar Solution
Almost two months ago, we told you about the situation at southern foreshore where the sea was being swallowed up by silt. Well, since then it’s gotten much worse, and the mass of silt now stretches halfway across the harbor – even threatening to get into the channel that the cruise ship tenders and the water taxi’s use.
And while all this happens, no one seems to be doing anything about it. Neither the Port Authority, nor the Fort Street Port, nor the Central Government, nor the city council is working to move out the silt. And today we found out why. The mayor says it costs two million dollars!:..
And one other municipal matter that we asked the mayor about was the buildup of silt in the Belize Harbour. We've been following the story for months – and it's only getting worse. In fact, it threatens to close in on the channel used by the cruise ship tenders and the water taxi's. Now, the mayor has said that it's government's job to dredge it, which will cost 2 million dollars. But, nothing is happening, so we pressed him on the point today:..
Darrell Bradley - Mayor of Belize City "If that's not addressed at a very early date, we would likely lose the Haulouver Creek and that's a major historic water way. That was the reason why people settled Belize City in the first place and it would be a monumental shame if we would lose that creek. We are a water city and we have to ensure that something is done with that at an earliest possible date."
Jules Vasquez "But are you willing to put your government on the spot and say this is an urgent matter, its worsening in front what would be the Brodies warehouse and that the government has to act urgently? Because there doesn't seem to be any urgency."
Darrell Bradley - Mayor of Belize City "I do believe that it is and I said it before that it is government's responsibility. That area is considered national lands."
Jules Vasquez "But you must have spoken to someone, have they given you any answer to say, ya we the work pan it or?"
Darrell Bradley - Mayor of Belize City "I indicated in relations to our efforts so that I think that to a certain part of it the city council would be willing to commit resources and I'm going on record to say that this is something that needs to be dealt with urgently. We have a proposal on the table, there is an initial commitment from that company at least in relation to getting the work started but there has to be a serious discussion in relation to how to complete the project."
Earlier we told you what the city is doing about the drains in advance of the rainy season, but another related issue is the silt that has developed at the mouth of Haulover creek - the main river channel leading into Belize City. Historically that waterway is what brought settlers to this area in the first place. But experts say, that in 5 years or so, we could lose the creek altogether. And that's because it's chocking on its own silt.
When we last spoke to Mayor Bradley about the situation he said that the city doesn't have the 2 million dollars funds to dredge the area properly, and that in fact it is central government's job to do it. Today he took it a step further and throw central government under the bus for lacking leadership to get the job done. Here is how he put it.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "Well I think that this is something that people have been saying for months now. I mean, like I go to Baron Bliss Park, I drive along the Southern foreshore, you see it. It's been reported on the media on numerous occasions and again you just need that leadership to just step up. We have a proposal in place, it's going to cost 2.5 million dollars. We have individuals who have even indicated to the council that they would voluntarily commit resources and energy and people who own dredging machines to do it free of cost."
Reporter "But you lack the leadership."
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "In many quarters, in navigation ways in terms of the river - that doesn't fall under our responsibility in terms of the jurisdiction and again, you just need the coordination and the leadership to just get it done. You need finances and you need just the political will to just say you know what we will bite the bullet, we will pay for this and we will have it dealt with. The waterways is the reason why Belize City was founded, because of the Mahogany that went up the river and if we allow Haulover Creek to dry up or to be silted in the way that it has been, it's going to be a substantial loss for Belize City - a significant part of our history and patrimony will be gone."
Residents of the area say they have never seen the harbour mouth so badly silted. We note that the images in our story are form our file, and since then it has gotten progressively worse.
Since February, we've been reporting on the alarming buildup of siltation in front of the Bliss Center and Bodies Warehouse on Southern Foreshore in Belize City. Since then, the mass of silt has kept accumulating, and now has spread almost across to the tourism village. This week, the mayor threw the government under the bus for now showing the leadership to step up and proceed with dredging. Well, someone has stepped up because this evening, we saw a dredge in the harbor mouth going to work. We couldn't confirm who is in control of the operation and who is paying for it, but the good news is it's underway, and choking river mouth should get some relief. We'll have more on this tomorrow.
Yesterday we told you about the dredge that had appeared in the mouth of the Belize Harbour. This is after a dense buildup of siltation that has all but choked up the harbor mouth. Now, we know that the mayor says it will cost 2 million dollars to dredge out the harbor - so has someone decided to foot that bill? Well, no. But something is afoot - and when we asked the mayor about ti today - we almost got a straight answer.
Jules Vasquez "But there's a dredge in the water right now and that is operational so that means the problem is on the mend."
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "Of course, I think we are right at the precipice in terms of getting some activity done. Whether not it is something that could complete the entire project that remains to be seen but I think that this is something where we really need the leadership of the Central Government who has far deeper pockets than the municipality. If we don't have a flowing river, then we're going to have a much worse drainage situation because the river isn't functioning in the way that it should function. But I anticipate that if we were to get the full resources it won't be a project that would take very long."
Jules Vasquez "And that dredge that the FSTV owns and is operating it."
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "Yes, but again the issue is just the mobilization and being able to pay for the project."
Jules Vasquez "Sir, but is it dredging?"
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "It is functioning but in term of starting the project we have to pay for it."
Jules Vasquez "So we shouldn't expect any relief from that dredge until somebody comes up."
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "Well I think that the committee is meeting quite intently to see how we can do it. If it's something that even if the City Council has to bite the bullet and say 'well, we will pay on terms' or things like that. We are prepared to do that because we recognize the importance of the project. I think that we are at a precipice of it, I can't say exactly when it's going to start but from the City Council's stand-point, we really want to aggressively do it."
Jules Vasquez "But there's a reason there's a dredge in the water Mayor. What is it doing?"
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "It's almost going to commence work."
The mayor committed to get us a detailed position by next week on when real dredging will start.
When will dredging begin in the Belize City Harbor?
Silt has been accumulating at the Belize City Harbor specifically in front of the Bliss Institute for Creative Arts. But the big question on everyone’s mind is when will dredging begin? Although there is a dredge in the area, Mayor Darrell Bradley says its won’t be anytime soon since the work will require the input of several partners, as well sufficient funding because it is a big project. Speaking with the media this afternoon, Mayor Bradley said that they have received several proposals from interested parties.
Darrell Bradley, Mayor, Belize City
“We have a proposal on the table. I have mentioned with you off camera that there is a committee between BTB, CITCO, NICH and the private operators of the Fort Street tourism development. They have put together a proposal. It is 2.5 million dollars in terms of trying to gain the initial two hundred fifty thousand dollars that will really start the work. Of course, you indicated that the dredger is already there. It is just really waiting for funding. I think we are just at the precipice in terms of getting some activity done. Whether or not it is something that could complete the entire project that remains to be seen. But this is something where we really needs the leadership of central government that has far deeper pockets than the municipality in terms of wanting to really ensure that the Haulover Creek is clean and properly maintained.”
“When the dredging finally takes place, how much time do you estimate it will take?”
“Well, dredging works can happen quite quickly, but again if you have the entire resources to be able to do it, I don’t anticipate that is something that will take more than a month. But again, there has to be a process in place to maintain the river.”
“And that dredge that is there, the FSTV owns and is operating it?”
“Yap. But again the issue is just the mobilization and being able to pay for the project.”
“So, but that dredge that is there, ih the dredge? It is dredging?”
It is functioning but ah mean in terms of starting the project we have to pay for it.
“So, we shouldn’t expect any relief from that dredge until somebody comes up with…?”
“Well, I think that the committee is meeting quite intently to see how we can do it. Even if the city council has to bite the bullet and say well we will pay on terms or things like that and we’re prepared to do that because we recognize the importance of the project.”
Bradley says he will be able to provide more details about the status of the dredge after he speaks with the committee. He promised to give a formal report next week about what is causing the delay and when we can expect to see some work.
Silt is choking the Belize City harbor mouth – and as the situation gets progressively worse, no one seems to be doing anything about it! City Hall, Central Government, the Port Authority and the Fort Street Tourism Village management all seem to be looking over their shoulder at the other to see who's going to tackle the problem.
A few weeks ago, we saw a dredge pop up in the harbor, but, just like that, it's gone, and a navigational nightmare is turning into an environmental eyesore.
So, who's going to deal with it and when? That's what we asked Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley today. It's the fourth time we are addressing the problem with him, and he was still unable to give us a clear answer:
Daniel Ortiz "The situation seems to be worsening where harbour is choking on its own silt, will there be dredging, what's going to happen?"
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "Well I can't say will there be dredging, I know that the city council together with the BTB put together a proposal, the proposal cost 2.5 million dollars, the city council doesn't have 2.5 million dollars to spend on that. I have received a proposal from an individual who wanted to do the dredging for free at least the initial part of it. We have circulated that to the department of the environment and to other regulatory agencies to see among all of us; we are willing to give permission. If they like wise would give their permission for the person to do it for free essentially and that would at least alleviate the silting at the mouth of the river, it won't address the silting all the way up the river but at least that's kind of a start. We've also received proposal from a developer in San Pedro who has 2 large dredgers and he is prepared to do it on terms so that we would pay him over a period of time. I suspect that in the month of June we would make some determination or decision on what is to be done. But let me be very clear this is something that needs to be done, it must be done but it's something that's not directly the responsibility of the city. I mean clearly we have budgetary constraints, we are a municipality, we're doing right now 8 streets, I'm very pleased in relation to how Cinderella Plaza is coming along that has to be financed. If we have to finance something which is not directly our responsibility to the tune of 2.5 million dollars that hits our budget very hard; what we're saying is members of the central government and other agencies really need to step in to make sure that we deal with this issue as an urgency and if we can get them to at least cooperate and authorize the person who would do it for free then that's going to be good. If they don't want to do that then I think that some kind of accommodation can be made in relation to doing it with somebody on terms so that we would pay them over a period of time."
The Mayor tells us that the harbor and the coast line are treated as crown lands under the law, so it comes under their responsibility.
We first reported on the silt build up in the Belize harbour at the start of the year. Originally we suspected that it was because of the cold front and its north easterly winds. But all the cold fronts have blown away, and the problem has only gotten worse.
The Mayor of Belize City said Central Government needed to step up with 2 million dollars to solve the problem, but still there seemed to be no movement.
But, today we learned that Cabinet has discussed the situation and monies have already been allocated for a dredging project to take place. Here's what two members of cabinet told us today.
Hon. Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism "I don't know if they have started because as far as I'm concerned the go ahead has been given. I know that monies have been allocated and it is in conjunction with the village, BTB and the government of Belize and speaking with those investors they will be a lot of dredging to be done and if we cannot accomplish everything then it is our hope that from over there we can go step further. But definitely cabinet had given its blessing and I know that monies were allocated for that particular project."
Emanuel Pech "How much monies?"
Hon. Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism. "I do not recall how much monies but sufficient to be able to alleviate the problems that we have at this point."
Hon. Tracy Panton - Minister of State - Investment, Trade & Commerce "The figure I think we're trying to finalize as I understand it the feasibility in terms of the total cost of the project. Government has set aside resources to begin the initial work. There is more work to be done in terms of understanding what's causing the problem so that we can try and eliminate not just the symptoms but the cause of the problem. It's an ongoing process; our Belize Port Authorities is involved in that process. Our partners at the tourism village as well have lent some support to that project and so work will begin very shortly, some work has begun but I think we will see much alleviation of that situation shortly as possible; that's feasibly if it can be completed."
Emanuel Pech "How shortly?"
Hon. Tracy Panton - Minister of State - Investment, Trade & Commerce "I can't give a time frame; I'm not directly involved in terms of the technical aspects of the project. I know that it's very much on top of our agenda when we meet weekly at cabinet so I expect it to be done shortly."
No timeline has been given for when this supposed dredging project will commence. In the meantime, the silt build up continues to swell at the mouth of the Belize harbour.
For months we've been showing you the terrible state of the seafront near the Bliss Center on southern Foreshore. Well, we've been monitoring it for the past few days after we saw a dredge in the area, and it's like Moses pulled back his staff from the red sea. The change and the contrast is remarkable. This picture taken at high tide, shows the water flowing back to the seawall. There is healthy and steady wave action - no doubt to the dismay of the Pelicans and Seagulls who had taken the muddy sea bottom as easy hunting grounds.
Now, it's still a work in progress as we also saw a small amount of siltation building up later in the evening. But it's progress, and seawall walkers are glad to see it…
Siltation, And Other Hydraulic Problems
In another matter related to city hall, the silt buildup in the Belize harbor is gone – well, almost anyways.
For months we've been documenting the buildup of silt in the Belize harbor. It was turning into a real disaster as the silt continued to push further across the mouth of the Belize River almost clogging the entire canal and making passage rather tricky. But it seems that behind us for the time being, because shortly after the dredge began ploughing into the silt, immediate change was apparent. Today the waves are once again crashing against the seawall and the Foreshore sea-view is restored. But the effort to find a more sustainable solution to the problem is still on. We spoke to the Mayor about this today.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor "We're very excited that the central government has moved in relation to the dredging work. I have looked at it myself and a substantial amount of it has already been alleviated. One of the things that I will say also is the emphasis on proper maintenance and monitoring. As a result of the flood mitigation project and the city council tends to talk up this project a lot because I see the significant in terms of improvement with the quality of our drainage system and canals in Belize City as a result of that project. They are doing a mapping of the entire Halouver Creek and they will make recommendations in relations to making sure that they are regular monitoring and maintenance including cleaning of the Haulover Creek. I said it before that one of the reasons which we are blessed in terms of Belize City is because of our water ways; the Caribbean Sea, the canals and Halouver Creek, there was a reason why the city was discovered and founded in the first place and it would be a shame if we lose the river. And one of the things that many people international partner spoke to us about and one of the things that we readily recognise is that it shouldn't take a silting up of the river as bad as what had happened before we react. So one of the things we're trying to do at the municipality level is to ensure that we're very proactive and so the flood mitigation project will provide a baseline in terms of developing a plan to regularly dredge and clean that water way so that we have it for a long time going into the future."
"My understanding is that it's not finished as yet, there is still a few more things that has to be done. One of the issues is that right now there is still some piles in the canal which from a previous project and I suspect that those will have to be removed so that the dredging can be continued but I suspect that it's going to be finished very shortly in the near future. You've seen a significant amount of improvement in the nation to the silting up and the water is flowing and there is an increase in terms of the run off so that the dredging works notwithstanding the fact that it is a short term project that has caused significant benefit in relation to the problem."