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World Water Day Exhibition held in San Ignacio Town Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture the Hon. Gaspar Vega declared open World Water Day exhibitions at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel on Friday of last week. Present for the occasion was the Mayor of San Ignacio and Santa Elena John August as well as standard bearer for the Cayo North Division Omar Figueroa. Also present for the opening were industry leaders in the water sector such as the Belize Water Services Ltd BWS and the Belize Electricity Limited; two partners inextricably linked in the extraction, processing and distribution of water resources in Belize. Children, students and other Belizeans were bused in from different parts of the Country to visit the various booths at the Resort Hotel and meet with local experts on water.

In his main address the Hon. Gasper Vega informed that water is used to generate 45% of Belize’s electricity, three times the average amount of electricity produced worldwide via hydroelectric power.

“As our population grows and our appetite for more potable water and energy increases and as climate change threatens water supplies, we need to identify more in-Country sources of water for clean, affordable and sustainable energy,” Hon. Vega said.

While water has the ability to produce energy in going from a high to a lower plain; conversely, energy is required to transfer water to our homes. According to Beverly Clare Mohammed, who works at the Double Run Water Treatment Plant near Sand Hill on the Northern Highway some 1,312,175 Kilowatt-hour kWh (a unit of energy equivalent to one kilowatt of power expended for one hour) is expended at the facility to produce 1,217,595,096 US Gallons of water.
Thus; the theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Water and Energy.”

International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of this precious resource. Such a celebration was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

The Government of Belize has placed water resource management as a central part in its plan to growth and development. Five years ago the Ministry of Natural Resources took the bold steps and adopted the National Integrated Water Resources Policy Strategy and Plan that includes measures to address the impacts of climate change.  The Ministry of Natural Resources also refined water resource legislation, which was in the making since 1992, and championed the enactment of the revised National Integrated Water Resource Bill last year. In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources commissioned the Water Advisory Council to provide the collective source of knowledge and technical guidance for sustainable water management in Belize. The good news is that on March 7 of this year the first bi-lateral water management meeting between Mexico and Belize was held in Chetumal where various agreements were reached to protect the integrity of the Rio Hondo Water Shed. As a result of these meetings, the Mexican Water Commission has offered to cover the cost of studies for the Rio Hondo Watershed and to provide training for the newly formed National Integrated Water Resource Authority as well as assist the office of the Belize Water Commissioner at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture.

In a World where1.3 billion people cannot access electricity and 768 million people lack access to improved water sources, Belizeans have the highest per capita amount of water in Latin America. The case of easy access to clean and potable water is a reality that some experts do not want us to take for granted. As a result, the World Water Day Planning Committee has taken a proactive approach to spread the message of water and its link with energy to a broad base of young people.

“We are satisfied that we have brought out a lot of the young people, because we believe that the young people are the vehicle to us changing the way how we address water resources …Belize has a lot of water resources and we take it for granted,” says Rudolf Williams, the Director for water and waste water sector within the Public Utilities Commission and who was part of the World Water Day organizing efforts in the Cayo District.