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.
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