The deteriorating health of the Macal River prompts residents to take action
Also in the west, there are environmental concerns by residents living along the Macal River. The concerns prompted a public meeting among residents and other stakeholders on the night of August twenty-third. According to reports, low water levels in the river attracted the public’s attention. There is also a notable increase in the growth of algae along the river from the Hawksworth Bridge leading up to Cristo Rey Falls. Residents say this has posed a serious threat to the ecosystem. A group of concerned citizens along with members of The National Students’ Union of Belize, NSUB, suspect that the lack of a proper drainage system in San Ignacio Town, agriculture chemicals seeping into the river from farms along the river, and deforestation have all contributed to its current state. Among the speakers at the consultation was Mayor Earl Trapp who explained that work is already being carried out to address drainage. In a video provided to us by members of The National Students’ Union of Belize, Mayor Trapp also spoke of additional work being done to mitigate pollutants entering the Macal.
Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio
“I can tell you that within the next six months we will have finances approved for a proper drainage system and as well, the proposal we are putting through is to get a proper filtration system to divert water that goes directly into the river. As a matter of fact, they have already assigned personnel from the same organization to help us get the proposal together. And then we have Mr. Frutos who is currently working with us and I can tell you that as of recent, at least a month and a half ago we had water testing of which the council is paying for because we had to do it if we are to continue to seek financing through the organization.”
At the end of the meeting, residents formed a group that is now tasked with actively pursuing the matter with respective government agencies. The NSUB will collaborate with this group to conduct an educational campaign on river conservation to effect behavioral change among residents living along the river and nearby communities.