Water and What We can Learn from Mexico
Belize is blessed with abundant fresh and saline surface and ground water….which is one of its most valuable natural resource.
The country has laws to protect this important resource, but the laws are not well known by the general public….much less enforced, and actually widely disregarded.
There is increasing pressure on the water resources from rapidly expanding, unbridled tourism operations, energy generation, commercial agriculture and water-side residential communities. Most of these activities are being undertaken without regard for their effects on water quality…with absolutely no effort to compensate for human damage to these resources….much the same as we did with forestry, where those who harvested were not required to replenish the forests…..now we import most of the timber we use.
I recently travelled from Chetumal to Mexico City by bus….I wanted to see the ground layout, what they produce, how they live.
There are many water tributaries that cross the highway along the route…..none of them are clean….ALL of them are dark and highly polluted….I would never take a swim or drink water from any of them....they are an eye sore. Mining, commercial agriculture and expansive residential communities are the culprits.
Belize is not there yet….we can learn from Mexico….and not make the same mistakes they made in their development.
Belize needs to take water resources more seriously into consideration.
Those who own or use waterfront properties must be required to clean the waterfront.
Those who make money from energy generation must invest in rehabilitation of the water resources they are affecting. The Macal River has deteriorated drastically after the construction of hydro-electric dams….with absolutely no effort to compensate. They can make contributions to the construction of waste water and sewage treatment for San Ignacio, for example.
Those making money from commercial agriculture must be required to protect water resources and obey the laws, especially those related to riparian forests….where these have been destroyed, the perpetrators should be served with a summons and required to invest over reasonable time in rehabilitation within established standards. The Rio Hondo and New River are the most polluted in Belize….directly related to pollution from the sugar industry. Other rivers, lagoons and tributaries are increasingly under threat across the country.
Belize made a choice to invest in cosmetics (fancy cement streets) without first investing in foundation infrastructure (for sewage and waste water). As the population and tourism grows, the amount of waste seeping daily into our water sources….polluting them…..is increasing at a rapid and frightening rate. In many places, the water smells foul when stirred….even the water used to shower in many of the tourism centers have a foul odor.
The next wave of major infrastructure investment should be focused on building this foundation….for proper handling and treatment of waste water, so as to protect our valuable water resources.
There are many things Belize can learn from Mexico….not in the least, is that it should take better care of its water resources…..which do not have to be destroyed for development to take place.