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Improper sewage disposal threatens Ambergris Caye’s environment #539870
01/03/20 06:05 AM
01/03/20 06:05 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,402
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Improper raw sewage disposal threatens Ambergris Caye’s natural environment and the Meso-American Barrier Reef

Ambergris Caye off the north-eastern coast of Belize is the largest and most populous island in the country and considered the prime tourism destination which supports the livelihood of thousands of islanders. Its urbanized area, San Pedro Town is the fastest-growing municipality in Belize which day by day continues to expand both in population and size. At the center of this rapidly developing sector, is the Meso-American Barrier Reef System, flanking the island’s east coast and playing an important role in the local economy of tourism. The continued growth, however, has put heavy pressure on the local marine ecosystem and natural resources, and one of the main issues unknown to some residents is the improper disposal of sewage waste. With a limited sewage collection treatment system, the environment and waterways around the island continue to be exposed to contamination. Although health authorities on the island could not confirm any public health issues related to sewage, environmentalists believe that if the matter continues, the problem could become a potential health hazard for both island residents and the natural resources, including everyone’s bread and butter…the barrier reef system.

The majority of the cases of improper sewage disposal continue to be reported in the northern part of the island. In certain areas, concerned residents point out the daily leakage of raw sewage and black waters into the western coast of Ambergris Caye and septic tanks along leach beds built near the waterline. In some areas, pipes can be seen protruding from the ground through which the waste allegedly leaks into the environment. One resident, who prefers to stay anonymous, said that the situation continues to be undetected and has been ongoing for years.

One of the marine organisms most sensitive to this type of pollution is coral. Speaking with local sustainable development scientist Valentine Rosado, who heads his company called Grassroots Belize, corals are very vulnerable to this type of pollution and the threat it poses is immense. Rosado explained that any contaminants, in this case, raw sewage, that makes it to the bayside of the island can end up on the east coast of Ambergris Caye where the barrier reef is located. “The bay is like a transition area and it connects that whole area to the Caribbean Sea,” he said, adding that the major impacts could be visible in the longer run, after years of accumulated pollution. A call for better infrastructure in sewage treatment/disposal for northern Ambergris Caye is imperative before irreversible damages cripple the second largest reef system in the Western Hemisphere.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Re: Improper sewage disposal threatens Ambergris Caye’s environment [Re: Marty] #540122
01/18/20 05:44 AM
01/18/20 05:44 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,402
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Ambergris Caye Lacks Adequate Solid Sewage Waste Management

The treatment of sewage and wastewaters on Ambergris Caye is an ongoing issue that seems to be worsening as the island continues to develop. One of the main concerns is the volume of solid sewage waste over the long-term, as there is yet to be a designated area on the island to handle solid waste from septic systems. While the local authorities do not seem to have a permanent solution, businesses in the Secret Beach area north-west of Ambergris Caye, have been tasked to adopt aerated septic tanks to minimize the impact on the island’s delicate environment. But even this system is not enough, and complications have been reported at this popular beach area.

One islander trying to help mitigate the issue by providing his services is Chuck Rice. He owns a company that designs and installs septic tanks and provides drain services. Rice believes the island situation is close to critical if the necessary measures are not set in place to treat sewage solid waste. He also believes this is the factor leading to illegal dumping as there is nowhere to dispose of solid waste. Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) counts with sewage ponds in southern Ambergris Caye; however, they do not accept solids. “They do not have the capacity to accept the solids because their ponds are not designed to break it down,” Rice said. The only solids they can accept are from the houses and businesses connected to their sewage system running from downtown to their ponds. This system is equipped with different substations, which breaks down waste. But most of the island is not connected to this system, leaving them with no options to treat their solids.

The aerated septic tanks at Secret Beach are designed in a way to treat the wastewater from the kitchens and bathrooms. It counts with interceptors, which filters all the waste from the kitchen (greases, food residuals) and also breaks down waste from bathrooms. According to Rice, by the time it goes through the system, the end product is treated water that can be used for irrigation purposes. However, it should not be directly disposed into the environment without going through further filtration. He said that many businesses in that area are making their best efforts to adopt the new system, which was mandated by The San Pedro Town Council. But this new method has seen challenges due to certain factors.

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Rice suggests getting a proper vacuum truck to clean septic systems on the island and building a ‘Tip Bed’ next to the sewage ponds. He adds that this suggestion was made to Belize Water Services Limited some time ago. According to Rice, the tip bed would be designed to treat solids, could be built in a short time, and would cost around $250, 000BZ. It will count with screens to sieve the waste solids, collect it and let it dry. Afterward, it can be scooped out and taken to the waste transfer station for its proper disposal.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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