Mitigating Flood Disasters in the Belize River Valley

Vancouver Island University, Canada and Wolfe, Larry. (2009) Mitigating Flood Disasters in the Belize River Valley. Vancouver Island University, Canada.

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      Abstract

      In October and November 2008, Tropical Depression 16 caused serious flooding throughout Belize. Communities in the Belize River Valley (BRV) were particularly hard hit. The Belize River has a low-lying floodplain that frequently floods in the rainy season. The hydrology of the basin is extremely complex. The upper watershed includes both the Maya Mountains as well as settled lowlands and rolling hills of the Cayo District of Belize and a large area of Guatemala. Dams on the Macal River, a tributary to the Belize River, provide hydroelectric power to Belize and some stream regulation. The timing and extent of flood flows along the Belize River depend on where the rains fall and the time required for the river to drain the valley. If rains concentrate in the upper watershed, some delay occurs before floodwaters reach the BLV. The basin is also a somewhat open system. The valley lies on a limestone Karst base, and floodwaters can be fed by underground flows. Further, when waters begin to overflow the banks, they can traverse into other watersheds, such as the Spanish Creek watershed. From here, the waters flow into a complex of lagoons and marshes that include the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. From here, the waters can flow into New River Lagoon and New River, and cause flooding in the far north of the country. The water also returns to the Belize River through Black Creek downstream of the village of May Pen. Complicating the picture, the lower reaches of the Belize River and related basins have a very low gradient. The river discharge into the sea is slowed by this minimal gradient as well as limited discharge capacity of the river mouth. Scientists predict that, with climate change, precipitation in the valley will increase and sea level rise will retard the discharge of water to the sea. This will increase the frequency and duration of floods in the future. This report provides policy options for consideration of the Government and people of Belize. While based on interviews, literature reviews, and fieldwork, the reports, analyses, and recommendations of this project are solely the work of the students. These reports do not reflect the policy of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the Government of Belize, or Vancouver Island University (VIU). Nevertheless, it is hoped that there will be useful analyses and recommendations in this work that will help to save lives and property of Belizeans when the next disaster occurs.

      Item Type: Other
      Related URLs:
      Publisher: Vancouver Island University
      Subjects: (B) Climate Change > (BC) Mitigation
      (G) Pollution > (GC) Water
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3C) Other Universities
      Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2010 15:10
      Last Modified: 08 Dec 2010 15:11
      URI: http://eprints.uberibz.org/id/eprint/1099

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