Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation and Area Representative of Belize Rural South, met with members of Belize Water Services (BWS) on Thursday, March 9, 2017 to discuss BWS intentions of further expanding its sewage system along the Laguna Drive from San Pedro High School to Sir Barry Bowen Bridge in San Pedro Town.
An estimate of about $1.5 million dollars will be used for this project which will be funded by the Government of Belize and Belize Water Services. This project is to benefit approximately 62 residents and businesses.
CEO of BWS, Mr. Alvan Haynes along with Mr. Sanjay Keshwani (BWS Technical Services Manager), Mr. Dave Pascascio (BWS Operations Manager) and Mr. Jermaine Jones (BWS Operations Supervisor) were all present on site with Mayor Guerrero and Hon. Heredia as they visited the areas that will be connected to BWS’ sewage system.
BWS claims that water rates will not be affected and the project duration is expected to take about six months.
Residents Complain of Water Outages and Low Pressure
But while BWS plans on expanded sewage on a section of the island, a majority of the community is complaining about the ongoing water outages and extreme low pressure they are experiencing for about a month now.
There is no reliable information as to when the supply of water will come back to normal as BWS has been very vague about the problem at hand. Various attempts to contact the company have resulted in no response to our questions. The only information available is that on their Facebook Page which states that ongoing interruptions are due to ongoing maintenance to the water treatment plant and pump stations.
“Customers may experience low water pressure and/or discoloration when water is restored. The entire San Pedro Distribution System will be affected.”
Although BWS states that the water supply should return to normal, frustrated island residents are still complaining that the water company is not posting timely advisories as to the schedule of outages and that water pressure has been extremely low when the supply is returned.
Reliable sources tell Ambergris Today that the problem is much bigger than regular maintenance and that BWS is encountering major problems in keeping up with the demand of water to the entire island. Sources claim that San Pedro is growing at a much faster rate than the company’s ability to supply a steady amount of water and that these outages and low pressure will persist until BWS expands its infrastructure/facilities to be able to supply more water to the island.
One island resident reached out to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) with this message:
“Where is the PUC! This commission's responsibility lies in assuring the country's utilities maintain service levels, fairness and advancement. Surely it seems not applicable to Belize Water Services. BWS San Pedro for months now has been totally failing with long outages, some announced some not. When they are scheduled they are at total inopportune times, including mornings prior to work commencement times. Furthermore when making repairs to pipes the streets are totally destroyed and left un repaired, causing further disservice to the community, traffic hazards and most importantly loss of our tax dollars street work investments, and further costs for proper repair! San Pedro is a thriving business community, BWS installation fees run almost a thousand dollars, our rates are higher, it seems only profits are being drawn with little or no re-investment in resources. PUC needs to step in urgently!”
Needless to say the PUC responded quickly stating that they apologize for the inconvenience that is taking place in San Pedro and that the Commission will look into the matter as soon as possible. The complaint was forwarded to the Director of Water and Waste Water.
BWS’ hotline to report any problems is 0-800-CALL-BWS (0-800-225-5297) and more information regarding issues can be addressed at Belize Water Services 222-4757 Ext. 1000.