Ensuring the Sustainability of Wastewater Operations in West End, Roatán.

Joel Amaya/ Polo's Water Board
Published: 12 April 2021
Last edited: 17 February 2022
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The community of West End, Roatán, is located in the Mesoamerican Reef and is one of the hubs for the tourism industry that is essential to the Honduran economy. Over a million tourists visit the island of Roatán in the Bay Islands each year, drawn to its colorful reefs, white-sand beaches, and clear waters.  


To ensure the protection of the Roatan reefscape, The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) has been leading efforts to improve marine water quality in Honduras since 2012, the same year when the community of West End had its activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) built. The plant is currently managed and operated by Polo’s Water Board with support from CORAL and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MARFUND).  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic created a significant loss of operating revenue for the plant due to Roatán's tourism-dependent economy. 


Central America
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Rocky reef / Rocky shore
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Cities and infrastructure
Ecosystem services
Gender mainstreaming
Health and human wellbeing
Infrastructure maintenance
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Science and research
Sustainable financing
Urban planning
Wastewater treatment
Water provision and management
Other theme
Community based Management
monitoring and reporting
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Storm surges
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Business engagement approach
Indirect through consumers


West End, Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras


  1. Inefficient wastewater management leading to poor water quality and its impact on the integrity and health of both humans and corals; as well as the local tourism industry. 

  2. Roatán’s economy is highly dependent on tourism. Additionally, many of the residences in the West End community are vacation homes. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 began to ramp up, many people with vacation homes returned to their home countries. The hotels emptied out and, although borders are now open, tourism is recovering very slowly and will most likely not recover fully until the last quarter of 2021. 

  3. Because the wastewater plant depends entirely on user fees to operate, Polo’s Water Association is now facing a 70% reduction in its operative income.


  • Local community.

  • Tourism stakeholders.

  • Co-managers of the Bay Islands National Marine Park.

  • Marine and coastal communities and Small Island Developing States that might replicate this project. 

How do the building blocks interact?

Multi-stakeholder and Community Engagement promotes governance and allows the project to reach its infrastructure goals and financial goals through payment of service fees and additional funding through grants, providing input for Budget Modeling for Sustainable Financing which assesses the project's finances, identifying projected cash flow, needs, and funding opportunities; while promoting resilience through designing budget scenarios. Marine Water Quality Monitoring generates data to evaluate its performance and to design its potential growth. 


These first building blocks provide the elements that go into planning for the Future. The improvements are established with a holistic approach that unifies scientific, technical, and financial factors; as well as honoring its community-based management model.  


This management model has the potential to be adapted and replicated in communities of the Bay Islands of Honduras and also in marine-coastal areas within the Mesoamerican Reef and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) based on their shared geographical characteristics and challenges.


  1. The alliance between Polo’s Water Board CORAL transformed wastewater management in the community of West End. Setting a standard for effective wastewater treatment based on community management; bringing the cumulative amount of raw sewage treated to an incredible 29.3 million gallons per year.

  2. In 2020 Polo’s waterboard was able to cover electrical costs, reparation of the aeration system, additional roofing, 62 solar panels to reduce monthly costs and daytime energy consumption by 80%, and a new station to increase coverage of sewage treatment services.

  3. There has been a significant improvement in the marine water quality since the WWTP's construction. A clear example is the certification of Half Moon Bay beach under the Ecological Blue Flag Program.


Joel Amaya/ Polo's Water Board

West End Roatán and its Half Moon Bay beach offer its local population and visitors beautiful, clean, blue, and safe marine water that can also protect the reef's health while supporting its journey towards becoming a sustainable tourism destination.


The partnership between The Coral Reef Alliance and Polo’s Water Board has resulted in the effective management of wastewater treatment in West End, preventing marine pollution by treating 29.3 million gallons of raw sewage per year.

Contributed by

marteam1_39825's picture

MAR Team - Coral Reef Alliance Coral Reef Alliance

Other contributors

Polo's Water Board - West End, Roatan