The Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) has purchased a new reverse osmosis treatment plant on Ambergris Caye, capable of producing 600,000 gallons of water per day. The purchase, along with the construction of a new 1 million-gallon ferro-concrete water tank, has doubled the storage capacity and efficiency in delivering water to meet the rapidly growing demands of the tourist destination. The investment comes one year after BWS finalized the purchase of Consolidated Water Belize Limited (CWBL), which had an exclusive license since 2001 to sell potable water only to BWS. BWS would then distribute the water to residents of the entire island of Ambergris Caye.
Chairman of BWS, Alberto August, explained to the Reporter Tuesday evening that the new assets more than double the capacity of the facility that existed when CWBL, with its parent company in Barbados, had its contract to supply potable water to BWS. But CWBL was having problems, over recent years, to meet the rapidly-growing demands on the island, which consumes around 550,000 gallons of water per day during the off-peak tourist season, and as much as 800,000 gallons per day during peak times. That situation often times created a rationing of water supply on the island.
CWBL’s contract would have expired in 2026, August explained to us, but CWBL was willing to expand their capacity to meet the growing demands under two conditions: if they would have gotten an extension on their license, or if BWS would have also invested in the cost of the expansion, which BWS was not willing to agree to. CWBL was also having problems to convert its profits from Belize to US dollars in order to repatriate its money. The company found itself faced with two options: to sell or to run out the life of the contract, but by that time, its assets would not have been valued anything to resell and also, BWS would have been producing its own water by then. So the two companies entered into an agreement where BWS would assist CWBL with converting its profits to US currency and then it would purchase its shares and assets. That purchase was finalized on February 15, 2019.
With the new assets that BWS has acquired, it is now able to comfortably meet the demands even in the highest tourist season. It purchased CWBL for $14 Million, purchased the new water treatment plant and constructed the new 1 million-gallon water tank through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) of $35 Million. The company, according to August, is now planning to expand in the north of Ambergris Caye, and will construct another completely new plant. August opined that “the buy-out of CWBL is one of the best investments that BSW has ever made.”
BWS now has a grace period of two years within which to commence repaying the loan to CDB.The Reporter