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Department of the Environment issues update on New River

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Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019. 4:51 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: On Friday  September 6, 2019, the Department of the Environment (DOE) established a task force to deal with the current condition of the New River. 

During the first meeting of the task force, several options that could be taken to urgently remediate the conditions of the river were discussed.

One recommendation which the task force looked at favorably was the use of aerators to reintroduce oxygen into the river. 

One of the points discussed was the probability that any intervention conducted may have both beneficial and adverse effects. In this case, oxygen will be reintroduced into the ecosystem; however, this may also increase the release of hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which produces a strong “rotten egg” odor, into the air.

In this regard, the DOE informs the residents of Orange Walk and surrounding areas, that with the assistance of Haney Farms, the Department will obtain aerators to reoxygenate the water. 

The residents are advised that there is the risk that this action may immediately release some level of H2S into the air. 

The H2S is formed because of decomposition, which is a stage in the eutrophication process.

The DOE will be conducting some trials along the New River, to reintroduce oxygen into the system. 

These trials will be conducted upstream of the river, to avoid disruption of the immediate areas and allow our team to test the effectiveness of the aerators being installed.

During these trials, the DOE will evaluate how much oxygen can be reintroduced into the system and determine the risk of disrupting the sediments at the river bottom.

The DOE will keep residents informed about the progress of these trials, and any other pilots that may be conducted. 

Residents will be advised prior to proceeding with any remediation measures. 

The concerns of releasing H2S into the air and its possible effects on the health of residents, especially students, is a major concern for the Department. 



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