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Progress and (new) problems for New River

Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2019. 1:59 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: According to Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Omar Figueroa, the New River isn’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to alleviating the conditions caused in part by the recent drought, dumping of toxic chemicals and wastes and unique interactions in the water itself.

With the arrival of the rains, says Figueroa, “what was advanced eutrophication happening at a specific area was not moving because of the stagnation of the river is now starting to flow, and so it’s starting to dilute with the onset of the rains up there.”

But near the Corozal Bay in Libertad village, there have been reports of fish kills which Figueroa says are triggered by the recent rains, which stir up sediments and advances eutrophication – the excessive richness of nutrients in a body of water, frequently due to runoff from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life and death of animal life from lack of oxygen. He plans to look into the matter.

Also in the Corozal area, the dead dolphin calf found on the shores of Cerros Sands Resort, near Copper Bank Village, Corozal District, died of internal bleeding due to muscle bruises in the chest area as a result of ‘blunt trauma’, and not as a result of any activity in the New River. Additionally, when it comes to the water quality of the Corozal Bay, it has not found any evidence of degraded water quality conditions as those currently observed in the New River.

But authorities are monitoring the situation, and Minister Figueroa told reporters that, “It is hard to explain fully what all the threats are once it reaches the Bay because the type of studies that we need to understand to look at the sediment, to look at the composition of the water, these studies haven’t really done in the past. We are just finding the resources now to go down and look at the sediment and see what it is that is down there.”

Those funds are for two important studies: sediment analysis along the entire river bed and a full-scale bathymetric study using light imaging, detection, and ranging surveying (LIDAR) at US$250 per kilometer. The New River’s length is 125 kilometers or 77.6 miles.

The studies will assist in long-term strategic management of the river along with land tenure in the watershed. Immediately efforts will be made to reclaim the 66-foot buffer where nutrients are trapped and could cause potential problems down the road.


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