The Dutch Democratic D66 Party wants to reserve 1 million euros for a drinking water project on Saba and to cover the operational cost of the sewage treatment facility in Bonaire. D66 Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Wassila Hachchi and Stientje van Veldhoven submitted two amendments during the handling of the 2013 draft budget of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment on Thursday to set aside funds for water-related projects on the islands. In the amendments, the Members of Parliament (MPs) cite two project proposals submitted by the governments of Bonaire and Saba for funding from the 10 million euros that the Dutch Government had reserved earlier this year for nature management and sustainable development in the public entities.
The 10 million euros is no longer available with a new Dutch Government in place. D66 has fiercely criticised this move by the VVD/PvdA cabinet. The opposition party argued that the islands need these funds for which the local governments had already submitted project proposals. D66 now wants a change to the budget of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment to free up 250,000 euros so individual households can be equipped with a filtration system to filter cistern water. The Dutch Government would finance the installation of the filter system. Residents would be responsible for the maintenance. According to the Executive Council, installing this system would “provide an immediate solution” to the problem of the “mass importation” of bottled water due the sometimes poor quality of drinking water from Saba’s cisterns. About 300 cases of water are imported per week. “This is a large amount of plastic which all ends up at the landfill,” Saba’s Government stated in the project proposal.
D66 proposes to make 750,000 euros available for the maintenance and exploitation of the temporary sewage treatment installation. Bonaire has no budget to pay for this. With Dutch funding, the local government would be able to take over responsibility for the temporary facility which was constructed in 2011. Bonaire’s Executive Council explained in a recent letter to the Second Chamber that agreements had already been made for government to take over the responsibility of the sewage-treatment facility. The scrapping of the structural funding eliminates that possibility. The two amendments will not have an adverse effect on the budget, because it would be funded from unused resources from the Infrastructure Fund for projects by the department of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat).