Belize, Mexico, Guatemala Collaborate on Water Resource Management Project

Belize, Mexico, Guatemala Collaborate on Water Resource Management Project

The National Hydrology Service gathered with local and regional stakeholders today for a workshop on the management of shared water resources. The workshop was used to present a proposal for a project between Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala on water resource management, as well as discuss critical issues such as water pollution.  Belize City Mayor Bernard Wager was at the event and said that the city council supports the initiative as water access is essential for every community. 

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “UNESCO along with the Belize Water Services are conducting a seminar, a workshop, to really look at how they could collaborate even closer in terms of ensuring that water resources are available and that it is clean water, usable water that you could use, and ensuring that there is no sort of contamination within the network of water systems. Water is one of the real resources of life. It’s a very important part of life. Every neighborhood that you visit actually is asking for water. They want clean water, you can’t live without water. So having this type of workshop, collaborating with UNESCO, with neighboring countries such as Guatemala and Mexico is something good.”

Tennielle Hendy Principal Hydrologist, at the National Hydrological Service, explained that collaboration with neighboring countries is key, as Belize relies on water coming from Guatemala and Mexico. She said that the NHS is pushing a new project that will see the collection and sharing of important water data between the three countries.

Tennielle Hendy, Principal Hydrologist, National Hydrological Service: “Belize has transboundary watersheds. We have five. All of them we share with Guatemala and one we share with both Guatemala and Mexico. We have a dependency ratio of 13 percent which means that we rely on our neighboring countries for our water resources. So it’s critical for us to foster partnership, cooperation, collaboration to manage this very delicate and finite resource. We have collaboration both in country and we have with our regional partners. So Belize has a bi-national water commission with Mexico of which ConAgua, which is like their IWRM agency in Mexico that collaborates with us on several different actions. We’ve completed quite a number with them. We’ve done a water quality monitoring program on the Corozal Bay, the Rio Hondo looking at what’s the pollutants coming out of that system that we share. We have the last one that’s most critical. We have next up for us to establish a binational monitoring system with Mexico and Belize. So we’re looking forward to that. With Guatemala, we have water quality discussions through the joint OAS committee which fosters collaboration between us and Guatemala as well. We’re hoping that we can get a tri-country project. We have one which is what we’re presenting here today on the Yucatan Peninsula Hondo Aquifer, and we’re looking forward to having more actions like this but we want to upscale. We’re trying to pilot a dynamic water resources assessment tool, which I said before or in the speech, that is like your bank account. It’s like your water bank account. We need to know how much water is there. You know, what can we take out? What do we need to leave for ecosystem services? You know, what can we I don’t want to say waste, but what can we, you know, have not so much control over but for that we need groundwater information. We need to know the thickness of the aquifer. We need to know how much water is down there. How long will it take to recharge that aquifer? Right now, we’re operating on limited information, and so we’re trying to advance this knowledge. So we’re hoping that we get another project that will help us to delve deeper into getting the information we need so that we can create the water balance for Belize. If you’re off balance, you fall down right? We don’t want to do that.”

The workshop was held at the Belize Civic Center conference room and was done in collaboration with UNESCO and the Green Climate Fund. Participating entities included Belize Water Services, the Department of the Environment, and the Department of Rural Development. Counterpart organizations from Mexico and Guatemala also attended the session remotely.

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