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SDG 6: Protecting Belize’s Groundwater Print E-mail
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Written by By Rudolph Williams   
Thursday, 19 April 2018 00:00

Sustainable development goal 6 target 6 is to protect and restore water related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes.  Aquifers are the natural groundwater storage systems.  Groundwater is the source for many of Belize Water Services systems, most of the rural water systems and for private rural domestic supply.  Most irrigation and aquaculture processing water is from aquifers.

In an effort to advance the progress of SDG 6 The Rural Development Department (RDD) and the National Hydrological Service (NHS) are holding a workshop for well Drillers.  The Workshop began on Tuesday 17, April with Technical lectures and presentation by Mr. Terry Watkins and Officers from the RDD.  Mr. Terry Watkins is a Senior Geohydrologist with more than 14 years of focused experience in geohydrologic investigations and the design, construction oversight and testing of water wells.  He has managed all aspects of well installation, including supervision and scheduling of staff, coordination with drilling contractors, clients, and regulatory agencies, well design and construction, well development and aquifer pumping test analyses.  Mr. Watkins participation was made possible through the US Embassy in Belize.

In attendance are local private well drillers, BWS’ well drilling staff, and the staff of the National Hydrological Service, the Rural Development Department, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Public Health Bureau.  The goals are to provide the well drillers with the basic understanding of drilling and safety, ability to plan well locations and depths using available resources, use appropriate drilling techniques and methods in different soils and rock formations and to drill using mud/bentonite.  Drillers will also be able to use appropriate test methods to determine well capacity, to complete a well log and well completion form using correct terminology as well as to be able to treat (disinfect/shock treat) wells with minor contamination.  The workshop also include a hands on drilling exercise that is currently on going in Unitedville.  The RDD has made its well drilling rig and staff available for the practical exercise in Unitedville.  The workshop concludes on Friday with closing ceremonies at the George Price Center in Belmopan.

This workshop is a follow up to a previous consultancy in April that was conducted by the NHS and the RDD with support from the United Sates Embassy in Belize.  This consultancy, the first of its kind for the US Embassy in Belize lasted for a one month as an attachment of another Embassy Science Fellow, Ms. Diana Cutt, a Hydrogeologist from the United States Environment Protection Agency.

During Ms. Cutt’s attachment she conducted assessments for the establishment of well drilling standards and a certification program for well drillers in Belize.  She also assessed the types of well drilling rigs used in Belize, the drilling methods employed, the documentations for well drilling and a review of the legislations governing well drilling and drillers.  Ms. Cutt highlighted the absence of a well drillers licence mechanism as a major weakness in the management of groundwater in Belize, although it is legally required by the National Integrated Water Resources Act. She recommended the registering of all well drillers since no real licence mechanism is in place.

The organizers are especially grateful to the United States Embassy in Belize for organizing the Consultancy and the training and for advancing Belize’s progress towards the attainment of SDG 6 target 6; the protection of aquifers.