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Dumping Trash in Northern Ghauts Affecting Collins River and Carr’s Bay Freshwater Pond

Your actions and activities in your village may affect the coastline in Carr’s Bay even if you are miles from the coast.

This is the word from the Department of Environment (DOE) within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Environment (MALHE).

Residents and members of the Montserrat Tourism Division participated in a cleanup of Collins River on Tuesday as part of Tourism Week. (MTD Photo)

The department is concerned that the continuous dumping of waste into ghauts in villages including Barzeys, Manjack, Cavalla Hill, Davy Hill, and Sweeneys is damaging the Freshwater Pond that forms at the mouth of the Collins River which empties into Carr’s Bay.

On Tuesday, the Montserrat Tourism Division organized a clean-up of the Collins River as part of its Tourism Week activities. The division is working to promote the responsibility of all residents to care for the environment as it is the island’s biggest tourism product.

The DOE says it is important that everyone keeps their surroundings clear and free from garbage and most importantly – refrain from dumping construction waste, white goods such as old fridges, stoves, derelict cars etc. into the ghauts.

“Other activities such as keeping animals near the ghaut, using harmful chemicals involved with auto repair and servicing, chemical fertilizers and pesticides for farming and draining of grey water into waterways not only pollute the waterways and impact the terrestrial flora and fauna, but can potentially enter the sea and severely impact the marine environment. This in turn will impact our quality of life as users of the ocean space and via the consumption of products from the sea such as fish, crabs, sea moss and lobsters,” the DOE said on their Facebook page.

Department of Environment Map of Collins River waterways.

“Debris such as yard waste, white goods, dumped soil and construction waste can block waterways and cause water to divert or increase the chance of flash flooding. White goods, including derelict vehicles, contain poisonous liquids, metals like lead solder and resins that can coat the surfaces of living organisms starving them of oxygen or preventing movement and growth. At the micro level there could be the presence of heavy metals that can enter the food chain and lead to food poisoning, skin irritations etc.

“Loose livestock can contaminate the water flow and impact water quality for those who use the ghaut water and also fauna and flora on the coast. This also increases the nitrogen content promoting the formation of algae blooms.

“Cigarette butts, surgical masks, clothes made of non-organic material and plastic bottles and bags shed tiny micro particles that eventually end up in the sea and the food chain. Contamination of land-based food sources is also possible,” the department explained.

The Environmental Health Department is also concerned about the continuous dumping of waste into the ghauts as it poses a risk to the health of the population.

Most of the bottled water produced contains micro plastics. Additionally, only about 8% of plastic produced is recycled. Eventually plastic and other toxins enter the food chain and will inevitably contaminate produce from land and sea that humans consume.

While community cleanups are a good practice, the departments are encouraging residents to take responsibility for disposing of their waste at the landfill and not in the ghauts.

Residents who want to know how to properly dispose of waste and chemicals are encouraged to contact the Environmental Health Department for information on 491-6057.