Published On: Wed, Jul 11th, 2018

BES Islands’ drinking water facilities have improved

drinking waterTHE HAGUE - 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.

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