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Texas Garifuna-Belizeans Community

Published for & by the Garifuna-Belizean Community of  Killeen/Texas

ISSUE NUMBER:  002-2000                          September 2000

the Tale of

.....spoiling Belize's Sweet-Sweetwata.....

the Gumagarugu not fit to drink

Dangriga, in Our time

By:  Joseph R. Flores

(with excerpts from the Belize's Amandala Newspaper & News5Online)

Two recent items of interest to Dangrigans have received media coverage. One dealt with the failure of the Town Council to levy property taxes on property west of Ecumenical Drive and Neal Pen Road.  The other dealt with two separate overflows from Del Oro Belize waste holding ponds that apparently contributed to pollution in the North Stann Creek River and affected water provided by WASA to Dangriga’s households.

As one who had the emminent previlege of growing up in the Dangriga of yore; when the town's only running water was the South Stann Creek River and it's only source of employment was the through Citrus industry, I got the distinct feeling that somehow, somewhere something had gone terribly wrong in the Pulse of Caribbean Basin, upon noticing that its people did not drink pure water, not even tap water anymore.  It had to be bottled water, or no water at all.  The river water that Dangrigans bathe, washed and froliced in, of whose majesty have been praised in songs, seem to have become so unpalatable that its inhabitants; past and present, were now selective in what they drank to quench inevitable thirsts.   My thoughts then was, man; these people are spoiled.  What's going on with the folks in Dang?

Little did I now that it was not them - the Dangriga children of this day and age - that are spoiled, but the South Stann Creek River itself; the very life-blood of Dangriga.  The problem has been exaberated by the shortsightedness and inadequacies of WASA.  This was found out the hard way, but the best way;  from my own, personal experience.  I never had any compunction of drinking water either out of a faucet or straight from the river, until my last visit home; in 1998.  During my three weeks stay there the liquid that eminated through the town's water system and into people's homes, was so discolored and odorous that even I; a diehard traditionalist, quickly became a regular customer of the water-truck man.  This experience was so unnerving that; in an article written and published upon my return to the United States, I paid particular attention to the existing drinking water problem my hometown, and it's citizenry, is now having to live with and survive in.  I implored then that the situation be studied, with corrective action taken, and taken immediately. No one; it seemed, heard that plea.

The water quality in Dangriga; therefore, is not a new problem. Residents have been complaining and suffering for years from frequently interrupted and discolored water that has caused most of the people who can afford to purchase bottled water, to do so.  WASA (Belize Water & Sewage Authority) has repeatedly responded to citizen complaints and includes with the response that either “there is no problem” or “we are working on it.” Neither response has satisfied those who continue to put up with the problem.  Then nature took it natural course:  the rainy season of Southern Belize, 2000.

Shortly after 3:00 in the afternoon of August 10, Dangriga residents were told by the Water and Sewerage Authority, for the second time in a week and the fourth time in less than two months, that their river water was contaminated and undrinkable.   The monsoon had come to make its regular visit, and because of the heavy rains affecting Dangriga, yet another spill had taken place that afternoon at Del Oro's ponds, affecting both Dangriga's river water, which is its residents' primary source of water, and its well water, the secondary water source. The first citrus waste spill occurred on June 12, 2000. Another followed on July 17.  Still, residents were relatively tolerant.  The Monday, August 6, citrus waste foul up, followed by that afternoon's, however, have broken the proverbial camel's back.   The number of occurrences and lack of attention, suddenly brought out of the normally docile Dangrigans an open outrage, sending those responsible into an immediate finger-pointing marathon and an all out war of words.

One resident said that WASA is blaming Del Oro and Del Oro is blaming WASA.  But Dangrigans are irate with both, for one simple and undeniable even.  Even though it seems that WASA should be beyond direct culpability, since all it does is provide water, residents are angry at the utility company as well, because (are you ready for this) they say; they have not been compensated for having to use dirty water

"We have to use this very same water to wash and cook and then still have to pay, plus buy water to drink," said one angry resident. Residents are, however, more incensed at Del Oro, the source of the problem.

But; why Del Oro.  Infact; who is Del Oro.  Next Time: (Dangriga in the Pomona Citrus Company/Sharp Days)


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