Constant water shortage on Ambergris Caye is no news, island residents have gotten somewhat accustomed to experiencing low water pressure throughout the entire year especially during Easter Break. Maintenance work is always an excuse by the water company to explain the low water pressure or intermittent interruptions. And then there is the blame game back and forth from the water supplier and water distributing company, regardless to all these there now seems to be a silver lining on the horizon as Caribbean Development Bank has approved funding of US$8.7 million to the Belize Water Services (BWS), to improve the supply of potable water on Ambergris Caye.
The CDB says Belize Water Services will use the approved funding to acquire the reverse osmosis plant on Ambergris Caye, which is currently owned and operated by a private supplier. The funds will also support the expansion of water and sewerage systems on the island, with consideration to the possible future effects of climate change.
“Supporting economic development on Ambergris Caye requires the provision of safe, affordable, potable water. Through this project, the BWS will be able to expand water production systems on the island, leading to fewer water shortages. We note the potential of this project not only to provide costs savings to BWS but also to boost tourism activity in the area,” said Daniel Best, Director of Projects, CDB.
Additional project components include the installation of a solar energy system at the San Pedro water treatment site, which will allow BWS to save approximately 37 per cent of the current electricity cost for this site.
The funding will also support the development of a Gender Policy and Operational Strategy for Human Resource Management at BWS, which will cover areas such as recruitment, retention, and training and development, to improve gender equality in the workplace.
A final component of the project will cover technical assistance to improve communication and public education, and stakeholder education. This will assist BWS in developing methods to improve customer outreach, and engage stakeholders at every project stage.
The project is consistent with CDB’s 2016-2020 Country Strategy for Belize, which identified water as a key sector for support, and acknowledged that physical development was leading to increasing demands for water and sewerage services.
Previous water projects funded by CDB include the Belize River Valley Rural Water System and the Belize City Water and Sewerage Project.