The General Objective of the proposed project is to support economic development and improve the quality of life of the residents on the Placencia Peninsula through environmental improvements. More specifically, the project aims at providing and increasing access to wastewater treatment through the development of a new sewage collection and treatment system on the Placencia Peninsula
Present condition of wastewater management and sanitation:
There is no centralized wastewater system. The most common wastewater disposal method is the use of septic tanks and soak-away pits. In general, the existing septic systems are inappropriate for the environment with pollutants able to easily move between the ground water system, the lagoon and ocean. The field survey revealed that 35% of households discharge their wastewater directly into the soil, beach or lagoon. The survey also revealed that 10% of businesses and 5% of hotels also discharge untreated sewage directly into the environment.
Health and Sanitation Issues:
The nature of Placencia soil (high porosity) makes even a properly designed and constructed septic system a potential health hazard. Many of the observed septic systems were not constructed properly and leak directly into the ground water. During high tides and heavy rains it is likely that contaminated effluent from soakage pits overflows into low-lying residential areas putting residents at risk from direct exposure to fecal matter derived from inadequate sanitation systems. The survey revealed that a large percentage of the systems are inadequate and represent a potential threat to the environment and public health.
The sandy soil of the Placencia peninsula offers very minimal filtration of wastewater seeping out of septic tanks and latrines and does not remove disease causing organisms. Other traditional methods of sewage disposal also fail to provide adequate treatment and expose residents to a wide range of pathogens and parasites. This largely untreated wastewater causes contamination of the sea, lagoon, and groundwater with pathogenic bacteria and viruses such as E.Coli, vibrio cholerae, salmonella, hepatitis A virus, hepatitis E virus, adenovirus, rotavirus, as well as parasites such as hookworms. Other domestic wastewaters also contain detergents and other chemicals that negatively affect the environment, especially aquatic ecosystems. If this trend continues, these contaminants will accumulate to the point where they will become a very real public health hazard to the residents of the peninsula and will also have a negative effect on the tourism product that drives the economy of this area.
Any negative impact on tourism in Placencia could also have an affect on the economy of the country since Belize has a public-private economy with tourism as the number one foreign exchange earner. Statistics show that the tourism industry contributed over 25% of all jobs and formed over 18% of the GDP in 2007. In order to improve and protect the environment, public health, and tourism, it is crucial to design and build a centralized wastewater collection and treatment system. The Government of Belize has obtained millions of dollars for this project in order to try to resolve the issue above.
Water Quality Sampling & Analyses
Through the support provided by the German government and the CATS program respectively, BWS was able to establish a water quality laboratory (see Pictures). Water samples are taken from 56 locations once a month (see WQM Map). They’re being analyzed for a total of 18 parameters ranging from pH to Enterococci (see Parameters).
As of 2015, it has become clear that the “Placencia Peninsula Integrated Water & Wastewater Project” also requires an in-depth study on “Nutrient Fate & Transport” (NTF), for which funds still need to be secured. The NTF study is expected to take up to two years, after which the location of the treatment plant and effluent discharge may be identified.
Progress of the Project:
Phase 1 — FEASIBILITY STUDY — Completed
Phase 2 — DETAILED DESIGN — Stalled
Phase 3 — CONSTRUCTION — Delayed