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Chateaubelair River gets much needed clean-up

Chateaubelair River gets much needed clean-up

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Thirty years ago, the Chateaubelair River had many deep holes, a heavy flow up to ten feet in width at certain points, and was the main utilitarian source of water for the community.{{more}}

From as early as 6:00am, the sounds of wooden beaters and children’s chatter would echo throughout the community as mothers did their washing and children took their baths in preparation for school.

On Saturdays, the river would be a hive of activity as most washing would be done on that day, and young men would traverse the length of the river and fish lobsters, crayfish, eels and other river fish from the abundant aquatic life that existed at the time.

Today the river slowly meanders through the community, not even reaching four feet wide at some points and polluted with all manner of garbage and solid waste; refrigerators, old bicycles and stoves, cardboard barrels, metal drums, glass and plastic bottles, and plastic snack packs. Elephant grass grows tall along the banks, hiding the water which is infested with mosquitoes and rats. At present the river poses a health hazard, and as time goes by the situation escalates.

As recently as late last year, Parliamentary Representative for the area Dr Jerrol Thompson took some action by having a front-end loader clear a certain part of the river, but soon the elephant grass grew back and the area became polluted again as residents continued dumping in the river.

Last Saturday, a number of groups came together to attempt to clean the river, and they have done a marvelous job so far. However, a comprehensive cleaning is needed if the river is to be returned to a semblance of its former glory.

The groups are Partners of the Environment: a North Leeward based environmental group, Volunteers from the Richmond Vale Academy, Japanese Volunteers and two representatives from Keepers of the Environment, the Windward based counterpart of the North Leeward group.

Support and assistance were given by the Ministry of Health and Environment, Digicel and Coreas Hazells Inc.

Spirit Cottle, who is the Senior Community Liaison Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded Integrated Forestry Management and Development Programme (IFMDP), told SEARCHLIGHT that their goal is to protect the water shed and seek alternative livelihoods for forest dwellers. “The old confrontational ways never worked, so we have to fashion a new approach based on community partnerships for forestry management”, he said.

Coordinator of Partners of the Forrest Calder Williams told SEARCHLIGHT that out of 12 Caribbean territories that submitted projects for funding to Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), based in Trinidad, the Chateaubelair river clean-up project submitted by his group was included in the first four that received consideration. Williams, who is also a former Parliamentarian and Opposition Leader. said that the funds received were used to purchase t-shirts, tools and other cleaning implements. Williams also said that the project is ongoing and that another section of the river will be cleaned tomorrow.

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