Higher Water Rates Apply

Until the opening of the San Pedro water and sewerage system, rates for water, sewer and electricity were uniform throughout Belize. The imposition of higher rates in San Pedro is a departure from the former national policy. In 1995, sewer rates were raised 10% in Belize City and Belmopan at the insistence of the Caribbean Development Bank. The increase was noted in the Belize City media and at least one article was written expressing their opinion that Belize City and Belmopan should not have to pay for San Pedro's water and sewer project. Apparently, someone listened.

WASA maintains that the cost of San Pedro water purchased from SeaTec far exceeds what residents are paying per unit of water (not including power and overhead costs); that the San Pedro system is already heavily subsidized and that for health and environmental reasons, residents are encouraged to hook up as soon as possible. WASA stated that seawater to fresh water conversion by any method is extremely costly.

The long awaited sewer and water system for San Pedro began with the signing of a contract with SeaTec in 1992 and a construction contract in August 1994 with Johnston International, International Horizons. Excavation began in January 1995. For over a year local roads were torn up while heavy equipment dug trenches and workers laid pipes. A water treatment plant was built by SeaTec and a sewerage plant and ponds were built at the southern end of town where the Holiday Lands sign used to be located.

The following information was taken from the project brief, issued in December of 1993.

Water will be purchased under contract from a water purveyor (Seatec Inc., of Florida) The Water and Sewerage Authority will be responsible for the storage, distribution and management of purchased water.


The project will consist of the following components:
(I) The purchase of water from a water purveyor using a reverse osmosis treatment plant;
(II) The construction of a 600,000 gallons per day sewerage treatment plant:
(III) The construction of approximately 6 miles of sewerage collection and force mains;
(IV) The construction of 6 sewerage pumping stations and appurtenances;
(V) The construction of approximately 5.5 miles of water transmission and distribution mains, one storage reservoir and a pumping station.
Upon completion of the project, water will be available to both residential and commercial consumers at an affordable rate.

A check with project manager George Wong reveals that the project as outlined in the brief is nearly completed. The water plant, located just south of the Victoria House resort, is on line and supplying water to the town. It has the capability for expansion as the need for water increases.

Located 1.4 Km west of the water plant is the sewerage treatment facility, capable of handling 600,000 gallons of sewerage per day. Sewerage is held in two open facultative ponds. Facultative as related to biology means these ponds allow bacterial changes to take place, breaking the sewerage down. Water from the facultative ponds is released into a maturation pond. The process uses sunlight, wind movement and temperature changes for treatment. According to Wong this system will not handle sea water or well water.

An August 12 press release from WASA issued new reduced rates for water after vociferous protests from San Pedro residents who were shocked at the amount of the first bills. High useage, leaks, faulty plumbing and waste all contributed to the high bills. WASA told The San Pedro Sun that country statistics reflect an individual use of 25 to 40 gallons per day.

The following rates apply for areas within the sewer zones:

Quantity of gallons used per month        Cost per gallon $
(a) Less than 1000 gallons....................0.019
(b) 1001-2000 gallons.........................0.025
(c) 2001-6000 gallons.........................0.028
(d) 6001-10000 gallons........................0.033
(e) 10001 gallons and over....................0.033

    For areas outside the sewer zones,  the following rates are charged:

Quantity of gallons used per month         Cost per gallon $
(a) Less than 1000 gallons....................0.017
(b) 1001-2000 gallons.........................0.022
(c) 2001-6000 gallons.........................0.024
(d) 6001-10000 gallons........................0.026
(e) 10001 gallons and over....................0.029 
A WASA advertisement on TV and in the print media on October 25th solicited applications for sewer connections as of November 1st. It also announced that as of November 1st, sewer rates would be charged. According to project manager Wong the majority of people within the water zone are hooked up to the water mains. WASA's project map shows that only two (one block long each) streets, located near the high school, have water and no sewer lines. Customers on these two streets are the only ones exempt from the new water and sewerage rates that go into effect on November 1st. When asked about the number of sewer hookups to date, Wong explained that there were a number of applications but no actual hookups had been done yet by the applicants.

This means that all water consumers who have WASA sewerage stubs on their property will be charged at the higher rates that include sewerage regardless of whether or not they have hooked up to the sewerage system.

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San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News