Belize is a developing country that faces water resource issues in the forms of both quality and quantity, stemming from a long history of environmental stress and population threats, from the ancient Maya to present. Belize’s karst landscape, which comprises a large part of the country from the coast to the Maya Mountains, is characterized by springs, caves, sinkholes, and aquifers systems formed from the dissolution of carbonate (limestone, dolomite) rock. This research presents several different case studies, spanning from the ancient Maya and issues with drought to modern communities that rely on groundwater resources quickly being depleted. Past drought patterns may recur, and their effects on population and the environment in areas like Orange Walk in the north to Gales Point in the south, where villages and towns surrounded by karst remnants have limited access to fresh, clean water. Part of this research used cave sediments to examine past vegetation change and the impacts of the Maya on the landscape on the Vaca Plateau to provide a history of socio-environmental interactions. We also examined the modern water resource issues for Belize, and have several pilot projects underway throughout the region to study and resolve these issues and compare the modern population to that of the Maya to better understand issues from future drought and climate change.
Earth Sciences | Environmental Sciences | Geography | Geology | Hydrology | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Water Resource Management
Recommended Repository Citation
Polk, Jason S.; North, Leslie; Miller, Ben; Oglesby, Jonathan; McClanahan, Kegan; Neeper, Lowell; Holland, Aaron; and Strenecky, Bernie, "Understanding and Managing Karst Water Resources in Belize: Case Studies of Both Past and Present in a Changing Climate" (2013). Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences Faculty Publications. Paper 36.