Islands’ drinking water facilities have improved

The qual­ity and availability of po­table water in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba have considerably improved in the past few years thanks to the input of the islands, the subsidies provided by the Dutch government and investments that were made in the facilities and personnel.
Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen stated this in a letter she sent to the Dutch Parlia­ment last week. She prom­ised to continue working towards the availability of sufficient and good quality drinking water at afford­able prices.

The minister explained that the potable water facilities in Bonaire and Saba had improved con­siderably, even though the tariffs “remained a bottle­neck.” She admitted that there had been an “un­expected steep increase” in drinking water tariffs in the Caribbean Nether­lands since the implemen­tation of the Electricity and Drinking Water Law in July 2016. The rising electricity prices contrib­uted to this increase.

“This steep price increase puts pressure on the acces­sibility of drinking water, especially for the vulnera­ble small consumers. That is why subsidies have been made available to safe­guard as much as possible the accessibility of drink­ing water for everyone,” stated Van Nieuwenhui­zen, who noted that for the middle and long term she was working on a minor amendment to the Elec­tricity and Drinking Water Law.

In Saba, the local govern­ment, with a subsidy from the Ministry of Infrastruc­ture and Water Manage­ment, has constructed a drinking water transport pipe from the water plant at Fort Bay Harbour to The Bottom and Wind­wardside. Water storage basins have been con­structed. “This means that there is sufficient drinking water in dry periods while at the same time the price of water has been cut in half,” stated the minister.

In St. Eustatius there is a backlog in maintenance of the drinking water facil­ity, which means that the system is not as efficient as it should be. In Bonaire, the drinking water produc­tion has been modernised and personnel have been trained to work with the modern equipment.
Also, a sewer system and sewage treatment instal­lation have been in place since 2014, which has re­sulted in a drastic decrease in untreated sewage being pumped into the sea sur­rounding Bonaire. This is good news for the coral reefs.

One of the conditions of the subsidy grant to Bo­naire was the introduction of a waste water levy and the sale of treated waste water for the irrigation of hotel yards and agricul­tural projects. The minis­ter said she was talking to the Bonaire government about the introduction of the waste water levy, which should cover the cost of the sewage treat­ment facility.

The Daily Herald.

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