Posted on September 21, 2021
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept 16, 2021– On Monday, the CEO of Belize Water Services (BWS) wrote to the Department of the Environment to place on public record the company’s objections to Waterloo Holdings’ proposed construction of a cruise terminal and expansion of bulk storage facility at the Port of Belize.
The letter was sent by the company in response to an outline of the proposed dredging and disposal methods that was presented in the company’s updated EIA addendum. The amended EIA abandons its initial suggestion to dump 3 to 5 million cubic meters of dredged waste material between English Caye and the Turneff Atoll and proposes an alternative strategy, which would entail dumping those waste products on nearshore and onshore designated areas.
While the EIA addendum states that dumping in this area would not present an issue for many stakeholders, BWS has stepped forward to sound the alarm and to make GoB and the public aware that if the project is given the green light, the dredged waste material would be dumped between its sewer ponds and on top of an important mangrove wetland used for wastewater treatment.
These sewers receive approximately 1.6 million gallons of wastewater for treatment each day, which is discharged through canals into the Caribbean Sea.
“BWS is greatly concerned by the developer’s proposal to dredge and to place 7.5 million cubic meters of dredged material between the location of BWS’s sewer ponds and the Caribbean Sea,” the letter states.
The company stated that mangroves are a vital natural polisher that further treat effluent before it reaches the sea.
The letter states, “Based on the EIA report addendum, the near-shore and on-shore locations for placement of dredged material lie directly on top of the natural mangrove wetland used as part of the wastewater treatment process and extend well beyond the present-day Caribbean Sea shoreline. BWS anticipates a serious disruption of the established treatment process, as well as an increase in the challenges of meeting the regulated effluent limits for discharges from domestic wastewater treatment systems into Class 1 waters.”
As a result, the company has decided to take a stand in opposition to the implementation of the Waterloo proposals, given the required dredging and dumping of waste that has been outlined. They are of the view that the project will be “extremely detrimental to the environment” and to the sewer treatment system.
They expect that it would cost the company, and thus the country, millions of dollars to remedy any impact if this proposal is approved and are currently asking the Department of Environment (DEA) and National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) for further discussion.
As reported, next week the DOE is set to have the second consultation regarding Waterloo Holdings’ proposed cruise port construction and storage capacity expansion at the Port of Belize. If the DOE takes seriously the urgent request by the BWS, the developers hired by Waterloo would once again have to go back to the drawing board to find a solution regarding where to dispose of the waste material that will result from the dredging.