Tuesday , March 28 2023

Measures for drinking water

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.

Consultant for waste management
Public Island Council meeting postponed till Monday, November 11


  1. this keeps referring to the residents ( the solution was supported by the residents of Saba) was there some survey that most of the people missed and who are the residents that agreed to this

  2. So in what way would this have local island consequences for those that make a large part of their living from trucking water? Was this factored in, where is the report in full & for once in English if you may.

    Was I the only one who spied the Suez water tanker merrily on it’s way to SXM during the last water shortage when the miraculous “Pelican” arrived like an Aqua Cavalry… Give me a break.!

    Please all educate yourselves to the implications of water policies that have damaged several countries and resulted in debt and poverty for the benefit of the more fortunate nations on our little blue sphere, you know why it’s mainly blue don’t ya?

    We should all be very concerned by the apparent lack of transparency to the public on this study, if I can’t see clearly through it, I won’t drink it and in turn… if I do not agree on some level I would not support it..

    FLOW (For the love of water) Full documentary here,

  3. René Caderius van Veen

    The text of the official letter has been added by me on the Facebook page of Sabanews.

  4. Well I am also in the dark about how residents currently ‘purify’ their drinking water and how the experts would know so much???? The water in the cistern does not meet ‘Dutch Standards’ well if you read the other study on ‘bottled water’ neither does it meet drinking water standards.

    I have a 3 stage filter (removes cysts, heavy metals etc), on my cistern and I am installing a UV purifier as well. My system cost me $200 US for the original filter setup and another $140 for the UV sterilizer. The filters have to be replaced about every 6 months at a cost of about $57 USD and the UV light will of course eventually burn out and have to be replaced at some point.

    The best most people that I know do around here is use a sediment filter and a lot of people don’t even drink the water. They buy the expensive bottled water (which by the way is not a guarantee of getting any safer water) and they believe that they are being healthy when in fact they are probably getting more chemicals. The best most restaurants do here when making ice for drinks is to use a sediment filter. By the way… ice and the ice machine is one of the main places where ‘food borne illnesses’ starts when it comes to restaurants. (I used to work for the Health Department in Florida).

    As for the delivery of water on Saba…. how many times do I see grey water delivery and cistern water delivery happening in the same tanks??? If we have storage of water then it needs to be filtered and made sure that the delivery method is not adding contaminates and harmful bacteria.

    There are a lot more issues than just collecting and storing water here at stake.

  5. Maybe the survey should be on how many people are ill through drinking cistern water. (A quick word with a doctor at the hospital would probably sort this out in 10 minutes). If there is no obvious illness directly as a result of cistern water, then why change something that works. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Has worked for hundreds of years why incur unnecessary costs. At least our water tastes like water.

    I’m not aware of any surveys on cisterns. How many people were contacted and how many cisterns tested? How much did this survey cost? Just another way of getting us to pay for something we don’t need. I would have thought our water is purer than city water.

  6. René Caderius van Veen

    Having read the comments I’m wondering also about several things.
    1. How is it possible that that statement that the inhabitants of Saba support the conclusions while – at least so far – nobody seems to have had any contact with the researchers???
    2. Why has the Dutch government chosen for a drinking water company to do the research? The chance that they have a special (limited) focus and not an open eye and not independant opinion is quite expectable.
    3. What is the role of Saba’s executive council and island council in this and why has this not been communicated? Or did I miss something?
    4. Before real arrangements will be made it might be good that the Vaste Kamer commissie Koninkrijkszaken is informed about the questionable aspects of this research and this report.