World Water Day highlights water preservation

World Water Day is being observed tomorrow. The theme for this year is “International Year of Water Cooperation.” But The National Integrated Water Resource Authority (NIRA), which is one of the bowels of the Ministry of Natural Resources, has incorporated a local theme. The theme “Water and Development: Past, Present and Future” is specifically geared toward the country’s objectives in water preservation.” Rowland Rivers, an Engineer in the Waste Water Sector and representative for the PUC, expounded on the importance of the local theme.

Rowland Rivers -Engineer in the Waste Water Sector:
vlcsnap-2013-03-21-20h04m49s21We have made our past, present, and future linked to International Day of Water Cooperation.  We’re talking about all stakeholders.  We’re talking about the past: what used to happen, the random way in which water used to be utilised. Was It regulated? Who used to have control of it?  The present: what we are doing now to try to rectify their situation? And how do we see our water resources looking in the future, where water protection is concerned, water safety, water quality, all these issues. And also, we’re talking about volume. How do we see it in the future?

One of the present challenges Belize faces is Climate Change. When we think of climate change, we often think of the earth’s water drying up – well that’s not the only threat. In fact, in the effect of climate change, Belize can experience massive flooding. Dr. Paul Flowers who represents NIRA said that this is one of the crisis the organization aims to address.

Dr. Paul Flowers – Ministry of Natural Resources:
vlcsnap-2013-03-21-20h06m05s11One of the key things that concerns us as a country, that we really need to focus on, is that we have so much miles of coastline, and the country of Belize interfaces with salt water at a very very low level, actually below sea level.  It is estimated that climate change can cause a rise in sea level between one foot and four feet. If it’s the four feet scenario, then you talk about the level now moves to around mile 8 / mile 10. So mile ten becomes seafront property, in 30/40 years.  At one foot in the Placencia area there is the Savanna watershed. It serves that whole Southern area. Everybody di drink from that watershed. Understand that if the pundits are totally wrong, and really it will only raise by one foot, that aquifa will be perforated by salt water, and suddenly the Southern portion of the country is facing a water crisis.

According to NIRA, Belize has some seventy cubic meters of fresh water per person, while the regional average is just less than twenty. And so the country can capitalize from such an abundance of water. But first, the country must undertake sufficient research and groundwork.

Dr. Paul Flowers – Ministry of Natural Resources:
vlcsnap-2013-03-21-20h09m33s34We’re going to conduct an exercise to measure all of our ground water resources.  You can’t start think ’bout sell what you have, until you know what you have. So on conjunction with the European Union and the UNDP and the Ministry if Natural Resources, we will be launching this year an extensive exercise to measure the critical area, which is that Southern area, and we’re going to also focus on the Belize water shed. We’re going to embark on some different levels of education, in terms of little booklets for the kids and to the Primary Schools, [answering the questions] what is an aquifer? How does it work? Let’s first know what we have, and understand what we have.

In commemoration with World Water Day, the Ministry hosted an open day on water education in Orange Walk. In addition, the ministry organized a Primary School Poster Competition, where Adrian Bernard Jr. from St. Jospeh RC School won first place and a High School Essay Competion for which Marleni Blake from Gwen Lizzara High took first place.

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