Residents of the flood-prone Belize River Valley area will be able to get early flood warnings, thank to a network of automatic river monitoring gauges which the Belize Meteorological Service is installing in the valley.

The one-year project of installation comes as a tripartite collaborative effort between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the Belize Meteorological Service.

Chief Meteorologist Dennis Gonguez told Reporter the Japanese team and the Met team, have already begun their preliminary assessments along the Belize River.

Gonguez explained that there are at least five primary flood-prone areas where they are most likely going to install the gauges. These include Santa Familia, Banana Bank, Big Falls, Lemonal and the Crooked Tree Lagoon).

The Japanese International Co-operationAgency team has also identified a possible sixth site near the Bermudian Landing Bridge, where a device may also be installed.

Gonguez said each of the three organizations performs a significant, specific, but yet integrated function. JICA's financial support, via the kind donations, helped buy and install the equipment. NEMO provides administrative support and functions as the official executor for the undertaking, while the Met Service provides technical support.

The functionality of the devices will require a proper communication system to relay "real-time" information to the Met Service's offices at the International Airport and this will require repeater stations.
He said a local communications enterprise will be contracted to operate the network.

Gonguez pointed to the great practical value the of such a project, saying the gauges would augment the flood forecasting capabilities of the Met service.

Real-time data on water levels on the Belize River would allow the Met service to give timely warnings to communities within the Belize River Valley. They would free up personnel at the Met Service, allowing for a better allocation of manpower resources.

The project will take about a year to complete; but anything that speeds up the flood warning systems is worth the wait, Gonguez said.

The Reporter