San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has taken new steps to ensure that raw sewage is properly disposed of. The issue was raised on Friday, February 20th after several residents identified a local cargo operator dumping raw sewage onto the roadside that leads to the island’s dumpsite. As such, SPTC members met with representatives from Belize Water Service Limited (BWSL) and the Department of Environment (DOE) on Monday, March 30th to discuss how incidents such as these can be prevented.

The discussion led to the initiative of constructing a leaching bed for the disposal of raw sewage. A leaching bed is a number of individual absorption trenches laid parallel to one another. Each trench consists of a perforated PVC pipe surrounded by clean gravel. Filter cloth is laid on the top of the gravel to prevent fine particles in the backfill from clogging the spaces between the gravel. The raw sewage that is dumped onto the leaching bed flows down the perforated pipe and percolates through the gravel into the underlying soil for further decomposition.

According to Councilor Ruben Gonzalez, this method would allow the safe disposal of raw sewage by cargo operators hired to empty septic tanks that are not connected to the BWSL sewage system. “In the meeting we tried to come up with a viable solution for dumping raw sewage. Not all septics are connected to BWSL and those septics need to be cleaned sometimes. So the important thing is to find a proper way for these cargo operators to dispose the waste. BWSL came up with the leaching bed system that would be constructed right beside the WASA Sewage Ponds,” said Gonzalez.

While plans are made to construct the leaching bed, BWSL will allow cargo operators to dispose of raw sewage into the ponds themselves. Of course, operators would need to inform BWSL in order to have the proper supervision during the time of dumping. “It’s going to take time to build the leaching bed so in the meantime these person that do this business of cleaning septic tanks will be allowed to dump raw sewage into the ponds. BWSL will have employees designated to supervise them. The supervision is just to ensure that there is no damage to the ponds because the composition of the Sewage Pond is very delicate,” said Gonzalez. BWSL ponds use natural bacteria to break down the composition of human waste, so if the raw sewage collected from septic tanks has additives and chemicals, it could kill the bacteria.

Leaching Beds Design. Click image for larger version.

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