By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
Water abstraction is when people remove water from its natural environment to use, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture this week emphasized the need for stakeholders to get the necessary permission to do so.
The ministry issued a public advisory, reminding stakeholders that under the Water Industry Act Cap 222 of the Laws of Belize, Part V, Chapter II, Subsection 61, no person shall abstract water by any means without the a license.
Tennielle Williams, acting director of the Hydrology Unit in the ministry, explained that following the procedures prescribed by law is an issue of national importance.
“It is important to regulate so that we are sustainably managing the use of our water resources; misuse or abuse of this resource can lead to a rippling effect which will impact all Belizeans,” Williams said.
She explained that the Hydrology Unit has received in excess of 30 applications in the last six months from across all the sectors who utilize water and require a licenses to do so.
Once an application is received, licensing officers conduct site visits and communicate their findings to the applicant. The minimum time frame allotted for any water abstraction license, permit, and consent takes approximately six weeks from the receipt of the application.
One is guilty of an offense for various reasons such as, but not limited to: illegally abstracting water from any natural water source; usage of water without a license; and construct or erect any work on a waterway(s).
Penalties for violations are in the forms of fines, with the minimum being $2,000.00. Additional charges to the base fines are dependent on the extent of the assessed offense.
Water abstraction has various methods ranging from small scale such as wells and hand pumps, to larger systems which supply water for irrigation for small farms, safari camps and small towns.