Minister for Infrastructure and Environment M.H. Schultz van Haegen is currently in talks with government officials of Saba to decide on measures to be taken as a result of the recent research into drinking water on the island, writes The Daily Herald. The minister will present a number of measures to deal with both the quality and quantity of drinking water on the island and has already made financing available within her budget to implement these measures, she informed the Dutch Parliament in a letter.
Research took place between February and September 2013 with an aim to develop a feasible, reliable and sustainable supply of drinking water, which meets Dutch rules and regulations, and which is supported by residents of Saba. The research, with was completed by Vitens Evides Internationaal (VEI) BV, was commissioned to examine the situation regarding both the quality and the quantity of drinking water on the island. There is currently a lack of sufficient storage facilities for fresh water on the island. Saba officials had requested the building of an extra water facility as a short term solution, and the concerns regarding the quantity of drinking water was underwritten by the ministry.
The construction of a drinking water network was found to be an unsuitable solution due to the high costs and the fact that this option is not supported by Saba residents. Saba has a long standing custom of using water cisterns underneath houses, which provide residents with free water which is purified for use as drinking water. In times of drought however, this system does not suffice. A feasible and affordable solution would be the construction of an additional storage facility for fresh water, which can be used both for desalinated sea water, as well as for rain water. This could create a sufficient amount of ‘grey’ water (un-purified water which is not too polluted to use), allowing for the water in the cisterns to be used for drinking water.
The water in the cisterns does not always meet the Dutch regulations for the quality of drinking water. One of the aims of the research was to see how this quality could be improved. A possible solution would be to equip all cisterns with a simple, easy to maintain installation for purifying water in each individual building. Although this solution is supported by residents, it requires further research both in terms of the system and with regards to the law. Current law would require all households to [provide-Ed] daily water samples, making this unsuitable as a short term solution. A solution that could be implemented short term is the introduction of 5-gallon- dispensers. These dispensers would be filled with desalinated seawater which would be distributed in a controlled manner. This solution is also supported by the residents of Saba.