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Department of Environment closely monitoring portion of New River ‘critically stressed’

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Posted: Friday, June 25, 2021. 8:43 am CST.

By Zoila Palma: The Department of the Environment (DOE), with support from the Mar2R Project, is implementing a 2-year monthly water quality monitoring program on the New River.

The DOE noted that 20 key sample points were monitored for May extending from the Lamanai Lagoon to the Corozal Bay.

“The information collected is critical for understanding the changes in water quality characteristics of the New River and for alerting managing authorities and the public about emerging issues that may arise and act upon them before they become a major issue,” DOE noted.

The DOE explained that data collected identifies two critical parameters out of the 13 that are being monitored to evaluate the ecosystem health of the river.  The Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in the river is an important water quality indicator as it determines the amount of oxygen available for living aquatic organisms to survive.  Chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentration is a measure of the number of algae growing in a waterbody. It is an indicator of organic load, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, entering the system.  The more Chl a concentration, the less the DO level.

The area from toll bridge to Trial Farm Village in the Orange Walk District shows signs of a critically stressed system and shows the highest levels of Chl a and lowest levels of DO, indicative of an algal bloom and reaching an anoxic state, which does not support aquatic life. See attached details.

In addition, the DOE said that the stressed area is being affected mainly by industrial, agricultural, and urban discharges.

The department called on industries, farmers, and the public to assist the relevant authorities by ensuring that they are complying within their property with adequate waste management practices and vegetation buffer along the river to reduce the organic load entering the river.

The DOE will continue to engage in continuous actions being implemented to monitor and restore the ecological health of the New River.

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