Water Resources Management Act 2006 (DRAFT)

BELIZE:

(THE WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT ACT, 2006)

PART 1
PRELIMINARY

1. Short Title.
2. Interpretation.

PART II
WATER RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION

3. Establishment of National Water Resources Commission
4. Functions of Commission
5. Ministerial directions.
6. Funds and resources of the Commission.

National Water Resources Management Master Plan

7. Master Plan.

PART III
ABSTRACTION AND USE OF WATER

8. Application of this Act to abstraction and use of water.
9. Crown Waters.
10. Licence required for abstraction and use of water.
11. Who may apply.
12. Appeal to Minister.
13. Simultaneous application for licence to discharge effluents.
14. Regulations relating to licences under this part.
15. Implied term in every licence.
16. Approval of works by Commission not guarantee.
17. Planning permission still necessary.

Easement

18. Easement may be claimed.
19. Constitution of easement.
20. Application where landholder does not consent.
21. Determination of application for easement.
22. Registration, etc. of easement.

Special Powers Relating to Abstraction and Use of Water

23. Inter-connected, surface and ground water.
24. Powers of Minister in water-related emergencies.

PART IV
CONTROL AND PROTECTION OF GROUND WATER
CONTROL OF WELL DRILLING

25. Consent of Commission to search for ground water.
26. Duty on well-driller to be licensed, etc.
27. Well-drilling and mining operations.
28. Waste of ground water from wells unlawful.
29. Contamination and pollution of ground water.
30. Commission may order special measures to safeguard ground water resources.
31. Artesian wells to be cased.
32. Prevention of dumping in wells.
33. Decommissioning of wells.

Special Powers of Commission in Relation to Aquifers

34. Commission may determine safe yield of aquifers.

PART V
GATHERING GROUNDS

35. Gathering grounds
36. Protection of gathering grounds from deforestation and animals.
37. Protection of defined area around gathering ground.

PART VI
CONTROL OF WATER QUALITY AND RESERVATION

38. Recharge areas.
39. Water quality control areas.
40. Water quality control plan.
41. Reservation of water.

PART VII
LEGAL AND GENERAL

42. Enforcement of regulatory controls.
43. Supplementary provision as to enforcement.
44. Investigation of offences.
45. Compounding offences.
46. Obstruction or pollution of watercourse or water resource.
47. Obstruction of designated officers.
48. Unlicensed drilling.
49. Refusal to provide information.
50. False information and falsification of measuring devices.
51. Offences by corporations.
52. General penalty.
53. Creative sentencing.
54. Protection of officers.
55. Regulations.
56. Trans-boundary Waters
57. Repeals.
58. Resolution of conflicts with Water Industry Act.
59. Commencement.

FIRST SCHEDULE

BELIZE:

BILL
for
AN ACT to provide for the management, controlled allocation and the sustainable use and protection of the water resources of Belize; to provide for water quality control and for the establishment of a National Water Resources Commission and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

(Gazetted: )

BE IT ENACTED, by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives and the Senate of Belize and by the authority of the same, as follows:

PART 1
PRELIMINARY

1. This Act may be cited as:

THE WATER RESOURES MANAGEMENT ACT, 2006

2. (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,

“aquifer” means a geological structure or formation or an artificial landfill permeated or capable of being permeated permanently or intermittently with water;

“bore” means any bore, hole, well, excavation or other opening in the ground or any naturally or artificially constructed or improved underground cavity which could be used, is used or may be used for the purpose of intercepting, collecting, obtaining or using groundwater or for the purpose of disposing of any water or waste below the surface of the ground, or which extends to an aquifer;

“commission” means the National Water Resources Commission established by section 3.

“domestic use” in relation to the abstraction of water means the use of such water for –

drinking, washing, cooking and sanitary purposes in connection with a residence; or

farming, gardening, the watering of stock or pen-keeping in connection with a household where the entire area of land does not exceed 5 acres;

“functions” includes powers and duties;

“gathering ground” means any surface of land which collects rainwater;

“ground water” means any water under the surface of the ground whatever may be the geological structure on which it is standing or moving.

“impoundment works” means any dam, basin or other works whereby water may be impounded for abstraction and use;

“local authority” means any Town Council established under the Belize City Council Act, the Belmopan City Council Act or the Town Councils Act or any Village Council established under the Village Councils Act;

“Master Plan” means the national Water Resources Master Plan referred to in section 7;

“Minister” means the Minister responsible for water resources;

“recharge area” means any area of the watershed where water infiltrates through a permeable or semi-permeable surface.

“Waste” includes sewerage and any other matter or thing whether wholly or partly in solid, liquid or gaseous state, which may cause water pollution;

“water”, “waters” and “water resources” mean —

(a) water flowing or situated upon the surface of any land,

(b) water flowing or contained in —

(i) any river, stream, creek or other natural course for water,

(ii) any lake or spring,

whether or not it has been altered or artificially improved;

(c) ground water,

(d) any water contained by works acquired, constructed, improved or operated by or on behalf of the holder of any license issued pursuant to the provisions of this Act,

(e) any estuarine or coastal water prescribed by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette, as water to which this Act or any Part or provision thereof applies;

“Water Quality Control area” means an area declared as such by the Minister in circumstances specified in section 39;

“Water Quality Control Plan” means a plan prepared pursuant to section 40;

“watercourse” includes all rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dykes and passages through which water flows, whether on the surface or underground, except water-mains and sewers;

“well” means bore;

“works” include impoundment works and wells.

PART II
WATER RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION

3. (1) There is hereby established for the purposes of this Act a body to be called the National Water Resources Commission.

(2) The provisions of the First Schedule shall have effect in relation to the constitution and operations of the Commission and otherwise in relation thereto.

4. (1) It shall be the duty of the Commission to regulate (without prejudice to the provisions of the Water Industry Act), allocate, conserve and otherwise manage the water resources of Belize.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission may, for the purpose of performing any of its functions under this Act, do anything and enter into any transaction which, in the opinion of the Commission, is necessary to ensure the proper performance of its functions.

(3) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of subsections (1) and (2), the Commission may –

(a) obtain, compile, store and disseminate data concerning the water resources of Belize;

(b) exercise planning functions as provided in this Act in relation to the Master Plan and Water Quality Control Plans;

(c) allocate water resources in conformity with the provisions of this Act;

(d) protect and control the quality of water resources in accordance with the provisions of this Act;

(e) provide to any department or agency of Government, at its request, technical assistance in respect of any projects, programmes or activities which relate to the development, conservation and use of water resources;

(f) take measures designed to raise public awareness of the importance or need for the wise use of water resources;

(g) perform such other functions relating to the management, protection, conservation and use of water resources as may be assigned to it by or under this Act or any other enactment.

(4) The Commission may from time to time by Order published in the Gazette delegate in writing to the Secretariat of the Commission or any competent Authority or Agency, the authority to carry out any of the functions connected with this Act.

5. The Minister may, after consultation with the Commission, give to the Commission such directions of a general character as to the policy to be followed by the Commission in the performance of its functions as appear to the Minister to be necessary in the interests of Belize and the Commission shall give effect to any such directions.

6. The funds and resources of the Commission shall consist of –

(a) such sums as may be provided annually for the purpose in the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure of Belize;

(b) all other sums or property which may in any manner become payable to or vested in the Commission in respect of any matter incidental to its functions.

National Water Resources Management Master Plan

7. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Commission shall prepare and submit to the Minister for approval a draft National Water Resources Master Plan for Belize.

(2) For the purpose of preparing the draft Master Plan, the Commission may –

(a) collect from any source data and information relating to the use and quality of water resources, and to water resources generally;

(b) consult with, and obtain data and information relating to water resources from, such person or organization as the Commission deems appropriate or from any agency or department of Government or local authority;

(c) undertake such studies and investigations and carry on such other activities as may be necessary or relevant to the preparation of the Master Plan.

(3) In preparing the draft Master Plan the Commission shall take such steps as are practicable to co-ordinate the Master Plan with the plans of any department or agency of Government for national or regional economic and physical development and shall have regard to any plans relating to the development of water resources by any non-state actors.

(4) The Commission shall ensure that the draft Master Plan –

(a) identifies objectives for the development, conservation and use of the water resources of Belize, taking into account all relevant considerations including the desirability of economic efficiency, the protection of the health, safety and welfare of persons, the promotion of a sustainable utilization of water resources and the protection and the enhancement of environmental values;

(b) identifies, describes and inventories in relation to Belize –

(i) the occurrence, quantity, availability and quality of water

(ii) the current uses of water; and

(iii) the activities which are dependent on, affected by, or related to water and its uses;

(c) identifies and describes in relation to Belize, the projected needs for water and recommends the projects, programmes and other steps which, in view of such needs, should be undertaken in respect of the development of water resources and the control, abstraction and storage of water and the supply, distribution, drainage and disposal thereof;

(d) having regard to the current and projected needs for water identified pursuant to paragraph (c) and the projects, programmes and other steps recommended under that paragraph, indicates the objectives in relation to water quality and quantity whether in respect of Belize generally or in respect of regions thereof, and the programmes designed to achieve those objectives.

(e) indicates and evaluates the ways in which all projects and programmes proposed in the draft Master Plan in respect of the current and projected use of water will achieve the objectives identified pursuant to paragraph (a).

(5) If he is satisfied with the draft Master Plan, the Minister –

(a) shall, by notice published in the Gazette declare it to be the approved Master Plan and shall specify in such notice the date on which the Master Plan shall take effect;

(b) shall cause the approved Plan to be published in the Gazette;

(c) shall cause such Plan to be made available to all departments and agencies of Government and to local authorities and any other body which the Minister thinks may be affected by the Master Plan in view of the nature of the activities in which that body is engaged; and

(d) shall cause a notice to be published in at least one issue of a newspaper circulating in Belize stating that the approved Plan is available to the general public for inspection at the office of the Commission on payment of the prescribed fee.

(6) The Commission shall cause to be prepared and shall submit to the Minister for approval periodic revisions of the whole or any part of the Master Plan which is for the time being in effect pursuant to this section; and for the purposes of such revision, the Commission and the Minister shall have the like functions as are exercisable under this section in relation to the draft Master Plan.

PART III
ABSTRACTION AND USE OF WATER

8. (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any existing enactment, the abstraction and use of water in Belize and the construction of any works for such abstraction and use shall be governed by the provisions of this Act, and accordingly, nothing in any existing enactment shall be construed as derogating from any provision made by or pursuant to this Act.

(2) In subsection (1) “existing enactment” means an enactment which is in force on the appointed day.

9. (1) The property in and the right to the use and flow of all the water at any time in Belize are for all purposes vested in the Crown, except only in so far as private rights have been established under licences issued or approvals given under this or a former Act.

(2) No right to water may be acquired by prescription.

10. (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall –

(a) abstract and use water; or

(b) construct or alter or cause to be constructed or altered any works for the abstraction and use of water, except under and in accordance with a licence for the purpose granted to him by the Commission under this Act.

(2) A person may abstract and use water without a licence if the water is required for either or both of the following purposes, that is to say –

(i) domestic use;
(ii) agricultural use other than spray irrigation.

11. (1) A person requiring a licence pursuant to section 10, shall make an application in writing to the Commission in such form and manner as may be prescribed together with –

(a) such information in support of the application as the form may require; and

(b) the prescribed fee ( if any).

(2) On any application to the Commission for a licence, the Commission-

(a) may grant a licence containing such provisions as the Commission considers appropriate; or
(b) if the Commission considers it necessary or expedient to do so, may refuse to grant a licence.

(3) It is the duty of the Commission to determine the application for a licence as soon as practicable after its lodgment.

(4) The conditions of a licence may require that, on issue of the licence and at prescribed intervals thereafter, the licence holder shall pay charges to the Commission for use of water in accordance with the licence.

(5) The charges shall be determined by reference to a schedule of charges published in the Gazette from time to time by the commission, with the approval of the Minister and following public consultation.

12. Where the Commission has refused to grant a licence, the Applicant may by notice appeal to the Minister.

13. Where a licence is required pursuant to section 10 and the use of the water to which that licence relates will or is likely to result in the discharge of effluents, then the applicant will also need to have a valid effluent discharge licence from the Department of the Environment and a copy of that licence shall accompany the application for a licence required pursuant to section 10.

14. The provisions of regulations made under this Act shall have effect in relation to the grant, suspension and revocation of licenses under this part and otherwise in relation to such licences.

15. It shall be an implied term of every licence granted under this Act to abstract and use water that the Commission may by notice in writing addressed to the holder of the licence impose, in accordance with section 24, such restrictions as it deems necessary if the area relevant to the operation of the licence is, pursuant to section 24, declared to be an emergency area.

16. Where in relation to the grant of a licence to abstract and use water, any condition is imposed by the Commission to the construction of works, the fact that the Commission is satisfied that the works have been properly constructed shall not operate –

(a) to imply a guarantee by the Government or the Commission that the works have been properly designed or constructed; or

(b) to support or justify any claim against the Government or the Commission or any officer of the Government or the Commission in connection with such works.

17. The grant under this Act of a licence to abstract and use water does not dispense with the necessity of obtaining any permission or approval where such permission or approval is required under any other enactment in force at the time of the grant, unless otherwise stated in such other enactment.

Easement

18. A person who –

(a) under this Act is an applicant for or is the holder of a licence to abstract and use water; and

(b) requires an easement, shall satisfy the Commission that the owner of the land over which the easement is required has agreed to the grant of such easement.

19. (1) An easement referred to in section 18 may be constituted by written agreement between the holder of the licence and the owner of the land over which the easement is required and shall contain a provision that the easement is not revocable by the person granting it without the approval of the Commission.

(2) In this section “owner” in relation to land includes an occupier having such authority over the land as would empower him to grant an easement.

20. If the landholder does not, agree to an easement, the applicant or permit holder may apply to the Commission, in the prescribed manner, for an easement, and shall serve notice of such application upon the landholder.

21. (1) The Commission may either dismiss the claim for an easement or grant the claim with or without modification and subject to such conditions, and to the payment of such compensation, as to the Commission seems just.

(2) The Commission shall notify the permit holder and the landholder of its decision.

22. (1) The creation or discharge of an easement shall be registered or recorded by the Registrar of Lands.

(2) Until it is registered or recorded pursuant to subsection (1), an easement is binding only on the persons who were the original parties to the agreement.

23. (1) The Commission may deal with surface water and ground water as one source of supply if, in its opinion, the surface water and ground water are so interconnected as to constitute one source of supply.

(2) In any area declared to be, an emergency area pursuant to section 24, the Commission may, if it is of the opinion that it is in the best interest of the management of the water resources of Belize, deal with all licences under this Act to abstract and use water from an inter-connected source of supply on the basis of equality of standing before the Commission.

Special Powers Relating to the Abstraction and Use of Water

24. (1) Where the Minister is satisfied that by reason of an exceptional shortage of rain, or contamination of water sources or watercourses, a serious deficiency of water supply exists or is threatened, then he shall by Regulations and after consultation with the Commission ( and the Department of the Environment in the case of contamination of water sources or watercourses) and subject to the provisions of this section, make such provisions as appears to him to be expedient, with a view to meeting such deficiency.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above, Regulations made under this section may include provisions authorising any licensee to -

(a) take water from any source specified in the Regulations;

(b) prohibit or limit the use of water for any purpose;

(c) prohibit or limit the taking by any person of water from a source specified in the Regulations if the Minister is satisfied that the taking of water from that source seriously affects the supplies available;

(d) supply water by means of standpipes or water tanks, and to erect or set up and maintain standpipes or water tanks in any street.

(3) The Minister shall give reasonable public notice of the making of any Regulations under subsection (1) above.

(4) Regulations made under subsection (1) above shall remain in force no longer than is necessary to meet the deficiency or impending deficiency but shall be revoked as soon as practicable after the deficiency or impending deficiency has been made good or removed.

PART IV

CONTROL AND PROTECTION OF GROUND WATER
CONTROL OF WELL DRILLING

25. (1) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall sink, construct, enlarge or otherwise alter a well for the purpose of searching for ground water or for any other purpose unless, in accordance with this section, he has obtained the Commission’s consent to do so.

(2) In granting its consent, the Commission may make it subject to such provisions as the Commission considers appropriate.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to a licence granted under Part III the terms of which authorize him to sink, construct, enlarge or otherwise alter a well.

(4) The provisions of regulations made under this Act requiring a person to keep a journal and to furnish the Commission with information in connection with any well which that person is authorized to sink shall have effect in relation to a person who has obtained the Commission’s consent under this section; but where any person contracts to sink a well on land belonging to or occupied by any other person, and the execution of the work is under the control of the contractor, the contractor and no other person shall be deemed to be the person sinking the well for the purposes of such provisions as aforesaid.

26. (1) No person shall practice as a well-driller except under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Commission.

(2) The Commission may make regulations governing the licensing of persons as well-drillers.

(3) It shall be the duty of any person who is the holder of a well-driller’s licence and who contracts to sink, construct, enlarge or otherwise alter a well on behalf of any person to satisfy himself prior to commencing any work that the other person –

(a) holds a valid licence under this Act to abstract and use water;

(b) has obtained written consent from the Commission in pursuance of section 25 (1); or

(c) is, by virtue of the provisions of section 10(2) entitled to abstract and use water without a licence.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) a person shall be regarded as practicing as a well-driller if he sinks, constructs, enlarges or otherwise alters a well for hire or reward whether or not such sinking, construction, enlargement or alteration occurs on one occasion only.

27. (1) Any person who proposes to construct any new boring, or to enlarge or otherwise alter any existing boring, for the purpose of searching for or extracting minerals or other substances under a relevant statue shall take such measures as may be required by the Commission for conserving ground water, being measures which, in the opinion of the Commission , will not interfere with the winning of minerals or other substances and shall submit to the Commission, at its request, such data or other information as the Commission may require in connection with such construction or enlargement, as the case may be.

(2) Information required pursuant to subsection (1) shall be forwarded to the Commission within thirty days of the date of a request therefor or such longer period as the Commission may allow.

(3) In this section, “relevant statute” means –

(a) the Mines and Minerals Act;

(b) the Petroleum Act; or

(c) any other Act which regulates the winning of substances.

28. (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall cause or allow any ground water to run to waste from any well or other work except for the purpose of testing the extent of quantity or quality of the supply or cleaning, disinfecting, examining or repairing the well or other work.

(2) Where ground water interferes or threatens to interfere with the execution or operation of any under ground works, it shall not be unlawful under this subsection to cause or allow the water to run to waste so far as may be necessary to enable the works to be executed or operated, if no other method of disposing of the water is reasonably practicable.

29. Every person abstracting ground water by means of a well shall, in order to prevent contamination or pollution of the water –

(a) effectively seal off to a sufficient depth any contaminated or polluted surface or shallow water in rock openings or soft broken ground;

(b) effectively seal the top of the well between the surface casing and the internal pump column, and the suction or discharge pipe;

(c) dispose of all return or waste water by means other than by return to the well;

(d) extend the well casing to a point not less than twenty centimeters above the elevation of the finished pump house or pump pit floor;

(e) use either welded or screw type well joints on the casing, if made of metal;

(f) dispose of effluents or drainage from any household, stable, factory, trade premises or other premises in such a manner as will prevent any such effluent or drainage from reaching such seal or ground water; and

(g) carry out such other work as the Commission may by order direct, from time to time, for the prevention of contamination or pollution.

30. If –

(a) during the construction of a well, water is encountered in an aquifer; and

(b) water from a water table or lower aquifer tends to flow from the upper aquifer to the lower aquifer; and

(c) in the opinion of the Commission this is likely to prove detrimental to the ground water resources of the area,

the Commission may order what special measures shall be taken by the owner of the well so that the water from the higher aquifer cannot flow to the lower aquifer.

31. Every artesian well and every sub-artesian well shall be efficiently cased, capped or furnished with such appliances as will readily and effectively arrest and prevent the flow there from over the surface of the ground or wasting from the well through the strata through which it passes.

32. Except with the expressed written consent of the Commission no person shall place, deposit or discharge or cause to be placed, deposited or discharged any waste into any well.

33. The Commission shall have power to decommission any well where it determines it to be necessary in order to protect any water source.

Special Power of Commission in Relation to Aquifers

34. The Commission shall have the power –

(a) to determine the safe yield of any aquifer for the purpose of guiding determinations concerning the abstraction and use of water from the aquifer;

(b) to impose special requirements and restrictions with respect to artesian wells, for the purpose of preventing waste or contamination of water, or loss of artesian pressure; and

(c) to carry out programmes for the recharge of aquifers,

and for the purpose of paragraph (a) “safe yield” means the amount of water which may be abstracted from an aquifer at a rate which would not reduce the supply to such an extent as would render such abstraction harmful to the aquifer itself or to the quality of the water and would not affect the economic feasibility of other abstractions.

PART V
GATHERING GROUNDS

35. (1) All existing gathering grounds shall either -

(a) be retained as forest reserves or national parks, as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of the Forests Act and the National Parks System Act; or

(b) be declared to be controlled areas under section 37 of this Act, by the Minister having responsibility for forests, after consultation with any relevant entity likely to be affected.

(2) The area of any additional gathering ground which is considered necessary by the Commission shall either –

(a) be declared a forest reserve or national park, as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of the Forests Act; or

(b) be declared to be a controlled area under section 37 of this Act.

36. If it appears to the Commission that by reason of deforestation or any other activity, the storage capacity or sanitation of any gathering ground is seriously threatened, the Commission shall -

(a) request the Ministry responsible for Forestry to take appropriate action under the Forests Act and the National Parks System Act to prevent or regulate the threat to the gathering ground, if the gathering ground has been retained or declared a forest reserve or a national park, as the case may be;

(b) request the Ministry of Health to take appropriate action under the Public Health Act to prevent or regulate the threat to the gathering ground, if the gathering ground has been declared a controlled area; or

(c) request any relevant agency or Ministry to take appropriate action to prevent or regulate the threat to the gathering ground; or

(d) in default of action being promptly taken under paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) above, take such actions as it considers necessary.

37. (1) If it appears to the Commission that it is necessary for the purpose of protecting the storage capacity or integrity of any gathering ground, it may request in writing that the Minister by Regulations -

(a) define an area around a gathering ground he considers in need of protection; and

(b) prohibit or regulate the doing within that area of any act specified in the Regulations.

(2) Upon a request being made under subsection (1) above, the Minister may make Regulations as he considers necessary, and such Regulations may contain different provisions for different parts of the defined area.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) (b) above, the acts prohibited or regulated by Regulations made by the Minister under this section may include –

(a) the placing, deposit or discharge within the area of material of any kind that is likely to impair the quality or significantly reduce the quantity of the water or the storage capacity of the gathering ground;

(b) such other acts or omissions as may be considered likely to impair the quality or significantly reduce the quantity of the water or the storage capacity of the gathering ground.

(4) In exercising his functions under this section, the Minister shall consult with and make suitable recommendation to the Minister responsible for agriculture, forests or natural resources, as the case may be.

38. The Commission may delimit areas as recharge areas and the areas so delimited shall either –

(a) be declared to be a control area under section 39 of this Act; or

(b) be declared to be a special development area pursuant to the provisions of the Land Utilization Act; or

(c) be protected under any relevant legislation.

PART VI
CONTROL OF WATER QUALITY AND RESERVATION

39. If the Minister, on the recommendation of the Commission is satisfied that a plan of coordinated measures for the protection of the quality of water resources in any area is necessary in the public interest, he may make an order defining the area in question, and declaring the area to be a Water Quality Control Area.

40. (1) In respect of each area declared a Water Quality Control Area, the Commission shall prepare and submit to the Minister for approval a draft Water Quality Control Plan.

(2) for the purpose of preparing a draft Water Quality Control Plan in pursuance of subsection (1), the Commission shall –

(a) conduct such studies and investigations and consult with such persons, as it deems necessary, and any body or authority exercising functions in relation to water quality.

(b) cause to be published in the Gazette and at least once in each of two successive weeks in a newspaper widely circulating in Belize, a notice indicating the proposals and specifying the time and place at which, and subject to subsection (4), the period during which, representations may be made in respect of such proposals; and

(c) hold such hearings or local inquiries as it considers appropriate.

(3) The period specified in a notice pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection (2) shall not be less than thirty days commencing on the date on which the notice was first published in such newspaper as aforesaid.

(4) In respect of any Water Quality Control Area, a draft Water Quality Control Plan shall, taking into account the provisions of the Master Plan that are in effect –

(a) prepare an inventory and identify present and anticipated waters in the area;

(b) prepare an inventory and identify present and anticipated discharges of waste into any waters in the area, on the ground or into the ground;

(c) prepare an inventory controlled land uses;

(d) identify environmental and scenic values to be protected;

(e) fix such ambient water quality standards as will satisfy the needs identified in pursuance of paragraphs (a) and (d);

(f) establish critical locations where the standards fixed in pursuance of paragraph (e) are required to be met.

(5) In addition to the matters listed in subsection (4), a draft Water Quality Control Plan shall make provision for -

(a) the achievement of the ambient water quality standards fixed in pursuance of paragraph (e) of subsection (4) including, if appropriate and desirable, a time-table for the scheduled achievement of those standards, if the waters in respect of which ambient water quality standards are in effect fail to meet those standards at such critical locations as are established in pursuance of paragraph (f) of subsection (4); and

(b) the maintenance of such ambient water quality standards as have been fixed in pursuance of paragraph (e) of subsection (4), if the waters in respect to which those standards have been fixed meet the standards at such critical locations as are established in pursuance of paragraph (f) of subsection (4).

(6) If he is satisfied with a draft Water Quality Control Plan, the Minister –

(a) Shall, by notice published in the Gazette declare it to be an approved Water Quality Control Plan and shall specify in such notice the date on which the Water Quality Control Plan shall take effect;

(b) Shall cause the approved Plan to be published in the Gazette;

(c) shall cause such Plan to be made available to all departments and agencies of Government responsible for administering controlled land uses, to any local authority for the area affected by the Plan, having responsibility for administering controlled land use in that area, and to any other body which the Minister thinks may be affected by the Plan in view of the nature of the activities in which that body is engaged.

(7) In this section “controlled land use” means any use of land and the natural resources therein which is regulated under any of the following statutes, that is to say –

(a) The Land Utilization Act

(b) The Forest Act;

(c) Mines and Minerals Act;

(d) The Petroleum Act;

(e) Any other enactment in force for the time being, which regulates the development, conservation and use of land and the natural resources therein.

41. (1) If it appears to the Minister on advice of the Commission, in order to enable a person to investigate the suitability of any waters for any purpose, or in order to make provision for a water supply for a waterworks, irrigation or power system or project, or for the use of the Crown for any purpose, the Minister may by order published in the Gazette, reserve any water from being taken or used.

(2) The Minister may in the order making the reservation or in a subsequent order provide that the water reserved may, despite the reservation, be acquired for the purpose for which it is reserved, or may be acquired for other purposes under licences subject to the reservation.

(3) Unless the Order specifies otherwise, it shall not be unlawful to use any reserved water for domestic use.

PART VII
LEGAL AND GENERAL

42. (1) If it appears to the Commission that –

(a) any water has been or is being abstracted and used, or any works instrumental thereto have been or are being constructed, or altered, without a valid licence under this Act; or

(b) any borings have been or are being carried out for the purpose of searching for ground water, without a written consent under this Act; or

(c) any condition subject to which a licence or consent to carry out any of the activities referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) (hereinafter referred to as “water-related activities”) have not been or are not being complied with,

the Commission may, pursuant to this section, serve on a person described in subsection (2) a notice (hereinafter referred to as an “enforcement notice”).

(2) The person referred to in subsection (1) is a person -

(a) who appears to have carried out or to be carrying out an activity in respect of which a licence or consent is required under this Act, without a valid licence or consent; or

(b) who appears to have failed to comply with any of the conditions subject to which the licence or consent had been granted,

whichever is appropriate in any particular case.

(3) The Commission shall specify in a notice reserved under subsection (1) –

(a) the water-related activity which is alleged to have been carried out without a valid licence or consent as aforesaid or, as the case may be, the matter in respect of which it is alleged that any such conditions as foresaid have not been complied with; and

(b) the period within which an appeal against its decision may be made pursuant to subsection (6),

and subject to subsection (4), may require such steps as may be specified in the notice to be taken within such period as may be so specified for restoring the land and the waters to their condition before the water-related activity took place, or for securing compliance with the conditions, as the case may be, and in particular may, for the purpose aforesaid, require the demolition or alteration of any works, the discontinuance of any use of the waters or the carrying out on land of any operations.

(4) The Commission may, in the notice, order the immediate cessation of the offending action if it is of the opinion that the circumstances giving rise to the notice are such as to warrant an order to that effect.

(5) If any person on whom an enforcement notice is served under this section is aggrieved by the notice, he may at any time within the period specified in the notice appeal against the notice to the Magistrate’s Court for the district in which the water-related activity to which the notice relates takes or took place; and on any such appeal the Court in a summary manner –

(a) if satisfied that permission was granted under this Act for the water-related activity to which the notice relates, or that no such permission was required in respect thereof or that the conditions subject to which such permission was granted have been complied with, shall quash the notice to which the appeal relates;

(b) if not so satisfied, but satisfied that the requirements of the notice exceed what is necessary for restoring the land and the waters to their condition before the water-related activity took place, or for securing compliance with the conditions, as the case may be, shall vary the notice accordingly;

(c) in any other case, shall dismiss the appeal;

Provided that where the enforcement notice is varied or the appeal is dismissed the Court may, if it thinks fit, direct that the enforcement notice shall not take effect until such date (not being later than twenty-one days from the determination of the appeal) as the Court may think fit.

(6) Where an appeal is made against an enforcement notice in which the cessation of the offending activity is ordered, the notice shall remain in effect pending the final determination or withdrawal of the appeal.

(7) Any person aggrieved by a decision of a Magistrate under subsection (5) may appeal against that decision to the Supreme Court.

43. (1) Where an enforcement notice takes effect and within the period specified therein or within such extended period as the Commission may allow any steps required by the notice to be taken and have not been taken, the Commission may enter on the land on which the water related activity to which the notice relates is or was carried on and take those steps.

(2) Any amount reasonably incurred by the Commission pursuant to subsection (1) may, without limit of amount, be recovered as a simple contract debt in the Magistrate’s Court of the District in which the steps aforesaid were taken, from the person who –

(a) being the holder of a licence or consent under this Act, has failed to comply with a condition of the licence or consent affecting water-related activities; or

(b) has carried out a water-related activity in respect or which a licence or consent is required under this Act, without a valid licence or written consent.

(3) A person who, having been entitled to appeal to the Court under section 42(5), fails to make such an appeal shall not be entitled in proceedings under subsection (2) to dispute the validity of the action taken by the Commission upon any ground which could have been raised in such appeal.

(4) Any person who uses water or causes or permits water to be used or carries out or causes or permits to be carried out any operations in contravention of an enforcement notice, commits an offence under this Act.

44. (1) Offences under this Act shall be investigated by officers duly designated by the Commission (in this Part referred to as “designated officers”).

(2) In order to apprehend offenders, a designated officer shall have the power to inspect, at any reasonable time, the site or sites where an offence is suspected to have been committed, to take samples of water and effluents and to request the alleged offender to submit any relevant documents, data and information.

(3) In exercising his powers under sub-section (2) a designated officer shall show appropriate evidence of his authority.

(4) Where there is sufficient evidence that an offence has been committed, the Commission may compound an offence or institute legal proceedings or report the matter to the police, as may be appropriate.

45. The Commission may in its discretion, after an offence has been investigated, accept from any person against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed an offence a sum of money by way of compensation for an offence which such person is suspected to have committed.

46. (1) No person shall, without authority under this Act –

(a) willfully obstruct, interfere with, divert or abstract water from any watercourse or any water resource, or negligently allow any such obstruction, interference, diversion or abstraction; or

(b) throw or convey, or cause or permit to be thrown or conveyed, any rubbish, dirt, refuse, effluent, trade waste or other offensive or unwholesome matter or thing into or near to any water resource in such manner as to cause, to be likely to cause, pollution of the water resource.

(2) A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.

47. Any Person who willfully obstructs, resists or in any way interferes with a designated officer in the performance of his functions under this Act or regulations made thereunder shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.

48. (1) Any person who drills a well, or causes a well to be drilled without a licence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.

(2) Whoever carries out drilling activities on a professional basis without having obtained a drillers’ licence in pursuance of the provisions of section 23 shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.

49. Any person who refuses to provide the information requested by the Commission shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars.

50. (1) Whoever –

(a) in giving any information which he is required to give under this Act or regulations made thereunder, knowingly or recklessly makes a statement which is false in a material particular; or

(b) for the purpose of obtaining a licence under this Act, knowingly makes a statement which is false in a material particular, shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Where the conditions attached to a licence under this Act require the use of a meter or other measuring device, and such meter or device is installed and used, any person who willfully alters or interferes with that meter or device so as to prevent it from measuring correctly shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

51. Where an offence under this Act which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect or default on the part of, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who is purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of that offence and be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

52. Every person is guilty of an offence who contravenes a provision of this Act if the person is required under this Act to comply with the provision.

53. (1) On its own initiative or on the request of the prosecutor, the Court that convicts a person of an offence under this Act, in addition to any fine or penalty, or in substitution thereof, having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission, may make an order containing one or more of the following prohibitions, directions or requirements:

(a) prohibiting the person from doing any act or engaging in any activity that may, in the opinion of the court, result in the continuation or repetition of the offence;

(b) directing the person to take any action the court considers appropriate to remedy or avoid any harm to the environment that resulted or may result from the commission of the offence;

(c) directing the person to pay the government an amount of money as compensation, in whole or in part, for the cost of any remedial or preventive action taken by or caused to be taken on behalf of the government as a result of the commission of the offence;

(d) directing the person to perform community service;

(e) directing the person to pay the Commission an amount of money the court considers appropriate;

(f) directing the person to post a bond or pay into court an amount of money the court considers appropriate for the purpose of ensuring compliance with any prohibition, direction or requirement under this section;

(g) directing the person to submit to the Commission, on application by the Commission within 3 years after the date of the conviction, any information respecting the activities of the person that the court considers appropriate in the circumstances;

(h) directing the person to publish, in any manner the court considers appropriate, the facts relating to the commission of the offence;

(i) requiring the person to comply with any other conditions that the court considers appropriate for securing the person`s good conduct and for preventing the person from repeating the offence or committing other offences under this Act.

(2) If a person fails to comply with an order referred to in subsection (1) (h) directing the person to publish the facts relating to the commission of an offence, the Commission may publish those facts and recover the costs of publication from the person.

(3) If –

(a) an order under this section directs a person to pay an amount of money as compensation or for any other purpose, or

(b) the Commission incurs publication costs under subsection (2) of this section,
the amount and any interest payable on that amount constitute a debt due to the government and may be recovered as such in any court of competent jurisdiction.
54. An Action may not be brought against any member of the Commission, officer of the Secretariat or any designated officer for anything done or left undone by the person in good faith in the performance or intended performance of an authority conferred or duty imposed under this Act or the regulations.

55. (1) The Commission with the approval of the Minister may make regulations generally for the better carrying out of the objects and purposes of this Act and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, may make regulations in relation to -

(a) the form and manner of making an application for any licence or consent required under this Act, the maps, documents or information which shall accompany such application and the matters to be taking into account by the Commission in considering such applications;

(b) the provisions relating to any licence or consent which may be granted under this Act, including the form thereof, particulars which shall be specified therein and the terms and conditions subject to which such licence or consent may be granted;

(c) the grant, suspension, variation, renewal and revocation of a licence or consent granted under this Act;

(d) the establishment and maintenance of a register or registers in respect of licences granted under this Act;

(e) the registration and recording of easements constituted under the provisions of this Act;

(f) provisions for the control of well-drilling and decommissioning of wells;

(g) the control of water quality;

(h) the time within which and the manner in which an appeal to the Minister may be made under this Act against a decision of the Commission;

(i) the fees and charges payable in respect of any licence or consent granted under this Act or the rendering of any service or the doing of anything required to be rendered or done under this Act and the manner of payment thereof;

(j) any other matter required by this Act to be prescribed.

56. (1) This Act shall not affect the provisions of international agreements on the use and protection of trans-boundary water resources that are in force or may be concluded, to which Belize is a party.

(2) In dealing with trans-boundary waters, and in the absence of international agreements, Belize shall abide by the accepted principles of international customary law on the subject.

57. Sections ___________________ of the Water Industry Act are hereby repealed.

58. In the event of any conflict in any regard to any matter between the provisions of this Act and those of the Water Industry Act, the provisions of this Act shall prevail.

59. This Act shall come into force on a day to be appointed by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette.

FIRST SCHEDULE

1. The National Water Resources Commission shall consist of fifteen members as follows:

a) Chief Environmental officer or his representative;
b) Chief Meteorological Officer or his representative;
c) Chief Agricultural Officer or designate;
d) Chief Forest Officer or his representative;
e) The Commissioner of Lands and Surveys or his representative;
f) Director of Geology and Petroleum Department;
g) Legal Counsel in the Ministry of Natural Resources;
h) Director of Water and Wastewater or designate of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC);
i) Chief Operations Officer or designate of Belize Water Services Limited;
j) Coordinator of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation or designate;
k) Principal Public Health Inspector or designate;
l) Vice President of Operations of Belize Electric Company Limited or designate;
m) Three persons to be appointed by the Minister at his discretion.

2. The members of the Commission referred to in (1) above shall hold office for a period of two years from the date of appointment.

3. The Chairman of the Commission shall be appointed by the Minister and a Deputy Chairman shall be appointed by the members of the Commission from amongst themselves.

4. The Chairman shall appoint a secretary from the secretariat who shall not have voting rights.

5. The Commission may co-opt no more than three members or may invite any person to make a presentation or contribution at any meeting of the Commission.

6. The names of all the members of the Commission as first constituted and every change in the membership thereof shall be published in the Gazette.

7. The Commission shall meet at such times as may be necessary or expedient for the transaction of business and such meetings shall be held at such places and times and on such days as the Commission may determine.

8. The Chairman shall preside at meetings of the Commission and if the Chairman is absent from that meeting, the Meeting shall be presided over by the Deputy Chairman and in absence of both Chairman and Deputy, by such person as the their members present at the meeting and constituting a quorum may elect from amongst their members.

9. At any meeting of the Commission, a quorum shall be the minimum number constituting a majority of all the members of the Commission.

10. The Decisions of the Commission shall be by a two-third majority vote of members present and voting.

11. Minutes in proper form of each meeting shall be kept by the Secretary and shall be confirmed by the chairman as soon as is practicable thereafter at a subsequent meeting.

12. The Commission shall regulate its own procedure.

13. The validity of any proceedings of the Commission shall not be affected by any vacancy amongst the members thereof or by any defect in the appointment of a member thereof.

14. Any member of the Commission may at any time resign his office by instrument in writing addressed to the Minister and copied to the Chairman and from the date of receipt by the Minister of such instrument such member shall cease to be a member of the Commission.

15. (1) The Minister on the advice of the Commission may at any time revoke the appointment of any member including the Chairman.

(2) The office of a member shall become vacant:-

(a) Where he is found guilty of a criminal offence; or

(b) Where he becomes incapable of performing his functions; or

(c) Where he has absented himself from three consecutive meetings of the Commission.

(3) A Secretariat for the Commission shall be established to assist the Commission in the administration of this Act.

Date of the Resource: 
2006
Countries and Regions: 
Resource Type: 
Resource Topic: