Private Investigator: Sewage services in Escalante Subdivision
Q: I know that Water and Sewage services will be extended to the North of the island. However, are there any plans to extend the Sewage services to other areas in town, i.e., Escalante Subdivision? - Susana Flores, La Divina Providencia
A: At the moment, sewage services are being utilized on the area from the San Pedro High School to Victoria House. Construction of this project reached completion in 1995. The Escalante Subdivision, at that time, did not exist as it was created in 1997.
Speaking with Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL), this PI found out that the cost to extend sewage services is much higher than extending water services alone. “With sewage services pumping stations have to be installed at various intervals to pump the raw sewage to the sewage lagoons. For water, just the main pumping station is required to keep the water moving,” stated General Manager, BWSL, San Pedro Town, Aaron Locke. Hence, the higher cost of sewage services.
Today, homes and businesses which are not part of the sewage system use the traditional septic tanks. Septic tanks are employed as a partial means to handle wastes since they separate liquids from solids. The liquid then flows out of the tank and is broken down by the surrounding soil. In theory, the bacteria in the soil breaks down the liquid waste, making it harmless. Sandy soils found on islands are not very good at breaking down the waste.
Acting Health Inspector for San Pedro Thomas Flowers stated that there are various areas in San Pedro Town where septic tanks can cause problems to the surrounding environments and these include San Pedrito and San Mateo. “Escalante Subdivision was created on high ground and the soil is not as sandy as everywhere else on the island. This allows for septic tanks to work better on that area, providing that it is pumped out when needed.” Septic Tanks typically need to be pumped out periodically - the solid waste needs to be removed before it builds up enough to flow out of the tank along with the liquids. Often, people don’t bother with the pumping, which presents yet another major problem for the surrounding area. As of yet, there are no immediate plans for a sewer system in this area.
Flowers spoke of a new septic tank design which is being implemented by the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority (ACBLA) which is different than the ones previously used. “The design is different as it does not allow for any backflow into San Pedro’s water table. The intake pipe is positioned higher than the other designs,” he explained. This new design is available for builders, contactors, architects, draft men and the public at the San Pedro Town Council office. Dalia Alamilla, secretary for ACLBA, commented that they require that this new design be used in place of the old one.