BECOL holds virtual information session


The Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL) held its first virtual information session on Wednesday. Due to COVID-19, BECOL and the Department of Environment (DOE) had agreed to produce the information session.
The fact-filled presentation was facilitated by Jorje Franco, an environmental officer with presentations also being done by Oscar Alonzo, who spoke about BECOL’s operations.
BECOL operated three hydroelectric facilities situated on the Macal River and stretches from the Mountain Pine Ridge down to the Vaca Reserve. Furthest upstream is the Chalillo Facility (2005), followed by Mollejon (1995) and the Vaca (2010). All three produce a total of 52 Mega Watts of power, currently satisfying 45% of Belize’s energy needs.
According to Alonzo, the water quality of the Macal River during the past 10 to 15 years has not presented any risk downstream. However, there is potential for the accumulation of materials that can be released during spillage. Technicians have been monitoring the Macal River onsite to collect readings on temperature, oxygen and pH levels.
Tests also show that the Macal River is still in a healthy range for phosphates, nitrates, and coliform content. The total coliform and E. coli concentrations in October 2020 were low overall throughout the Macal River Basin.
A dam is a concrete wall built across a river. As a result, measures have been put in place should the dam become compromised. BECOL conducts regular drills to activate sirens for split seconds to test the early warning systems. Evacuation routes have also been mapped should there be a dam breach. It would take an estimated three to four hours for San Ignacio to become affected should there be a dam breach.