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New study being commissioned to address New River situation

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2019. 6:02 am CST.

By BBN Staff: The Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, is commissioning a study on the New River to better understand how to address the hypoxia (depleted oxygen) which has resulted in negative environmental effects.

Today, Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development, explained that GOB is taking a comprehensive, systematic approach to dealing with the situation, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish and a stench so bad that classes had to be called off at La Inmaculada RC School in Orange Walk Town.
Figueroa said that the study is important because there is, currently no in-depth study on the sediment content of the new river acknowledging that studies have been done in the past but were neither detailed or peer-reviewed. A part of the study will entail gathering all literature that exists on the New River.

He added that what is known currently is that the current state of hypoxia is directly related to the ongoing drought, which is the worst drought Belize has seen in 35 years, noting that the drought worsened that fact that there are pollutants in the river.

“This is not from one source of pollution, this is a cumulation of effluent being deposited in the rivers for years. Agriculture, Industrial and urban sources,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa said that the government’s new River Taskforce will be monitoring the situation and will use the data collected from the study to inform future intervention, which may or may not include dredging portions of the New River.


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