DOE warns of illegal dam construction

The Department of the Environment is still investigating the Barton Creek Dam in an effort to determine the best way forward.

In the last week of December 2014, Plus TV broke the news of the existence of two micro-hydros built close to the Barton Creek Archeological site, unbeknownst to the Department of the Environment.

The archeological site is surrounded by a lush forest, privately owned by a few wealthy Canadians and Americans. The Site itself however is protected and administrated by the National Institute for Culture and History (NICH). Being a protected area means that there are many “don’ts” as this sign illustrates.

vlcsnap-2015-01-24-08h44m24s142vlcsnap-2015-01-24-08h46m41s225vlcsnap-2015-01-24-08h44m50s162

So it was to our great surprise when we found a man made dam, almost to the entrance of the Barton Creek Cave, owned by one Mike Bogart of Mike’s Place.

About a mile downstream from the entrance of the Barton Creek Cave is a second dam much bigger. This second dam, which sits on a property leased by one Ian Anderson, blocks an entire section of the river.

After making preliminary inquiries, the Department of the Environment affirmed to us on Monday last week, that the construction of the dams was done without permission from any government agency.

On Thursday January 15th, the Department revisited the location of the dams where they met with the proprietor of the smaller dam.

In a previous meeting held in Belmopan with the two land owners, the Department explained to them the infractions. The proprietors in turn told their side of the story.

According to the Department, Mike Bogart told authorities that he was not aware of the infractions of the small water mill which was built without the Department’s consent.  Ian Anderson told authorities, and recently another media house, that when he leased the property, the dam was already there and that he in turn made some minor modifications to it. His neighbor, Mike Bogart, corroborated his story.

A joint inspection between the Department of the Environment, the Lands Department, and other relative government agencies has been launched to determine who the legally responsible persons are for the larger dam.

DOE told us on Friday that they are still having consultations with all relevant stakeholders, including farmers around the Barton Creek Area, in an effort to determine the best way forward.

Earlier Friday evening the Department of the Environment released a statement saying that quote, In recent months, the Department of the Environment has received various complaints from the general public in reference to obstruction and diversion of water bodies. The obstruction or diversion of water bodies can lead to various effects on life and the environment, especially in ecologically sensitive areas

The press release further stated that an individual who engages in these activities without getting the proper clearance from the Department  “commits an offence and can be fined under the National Integrated Water Resource Act.”
.

About the Author