In December of last year, plus TV’s Cameras travelled to Barton Creek the Barton Creek archaeological site, in Cayo District based on reports of an illegal dam structure that was built some hundred yards down from the mouth of the Barton Creek Cave, an system protected by NICH. We brought the matter up to the Department of the Environment (DOE) who immediately launched a investigation into the matter. Since then, they have written correspondence to the owners of both structures informing them of their preliminary decision.
” I think the last time we spoke the department was going to look at this in a joint effort where we were going to have representatives from the Lands Department, the Forestry Department, the Hydrology unit in the National Integrated Water Resources Authority, this team along with the DOE went out, we saw the two structures came back and met on several occasions to discuss the particular issue. What we have done so far is that we have sent both individuals and officials personnel from the DOE. One informing Mr. Bogart that he had to regularize his structure and the other one to Mr. Anderson that he needs to conduct and environmental audit 2which is an environmental tool that we can use under our law to basically inform the DOE of a particular issue, hpow that issue is impacting the immediate area and come up with recommendations to improve or decomission what ever so that the impacts that that particular structure is having is reduced. So we have written to them so far, what needs to be done again, we need to develop a terms of reference study. The study will be done more along the lines of hydrological survey. After that Mr. Anderson will get someone to conduct the study. For us, what is important is the result. We want it to be done by someone with competency in hydrology and hydrological profileand that type of thing, We are in the process of developing the terms of reference for that particular study.”
At this time the interim committee heading the investigation has not decided whether charges will be levied against the owners of the dam structures. We’ve told you about a small micro hyrdo system very near to the mouth of the cave which is owned by Michael Bogart, and we’ve told you about the much larger dam system some yards down the river. But according to DOE, during their investigations, they got wind of a third structure
“Before the team sat and met, we did discuss with the individuals about the issue, the people living around the area and the two individuals in particular. Through discussions with several people, we found out that they are some more issues that needs to be looked at within that particular area. We have a list of issues that needs to be looked at and we will be doing that shortly. Some excavation going on farther, we have reports of another structure going up in the area. It is like a dam structure but not particularly a dam structure. What was mentioned to us is that there is a gate that will be lifted to impede water and then later it will be put back down and water flows. We have information on where that particular structure is and we need to look and see it.”
The Department of the Environment takes this opportunity to remind the general public that it is illegal to build any structures that will impede the natural flow of a river or water system.
“Definitely yes. In fact any dam structures, the DOE needs to assess any intention of constructing a dam because the fact that it impedes the flow of water and that in itself can have significant environmental impact. So anyone who wants to construct a dam needs to come to us. We will asses it and evaluate it from an environmental standpoint along with other agencies.”