During his visit to Saba on Monday, January 7, 2019, State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops together with Commissioner Bruce Zagers unveiled the sign for the construction of the water bottling plant in St. John’s. Island Governor Jonathan Johnson gladly lend a helping hand to remove the tarpaulin that covered the billboard.
The preparatory work for the construction of the water bottling plant has started. The intention is to have the fully-automated plant open by April this year, said Commissioner Zagers during the ceremony to unveil the sign. The project management for the plant is carried out by the Public Entity Saba and the funding is provided by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W).
State Secretary Knops explained at the ceremony that Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen unfortunately was unable to come to Saba because she had to remain in the Netherlands due to the incident at the Wadden Islands involving multiple containers that have gone overboard from a ship. The contents of these containers have been washing on the shores of the Wadden Islands, causing major pollution. Knops apologized for the Minister’s absence and promised that she would come to Saba at a later time.
The State Secretary said he was proud of Saba and the work that was being done. “I am always astonished by the energy of the people and the government here. It all feels very positive. What strikes me is that Saba with its ‘can do mentality’ always finds solutions for every challenge, often even before it becomes an issue. Every time when I come here, Saba is working on something new. That is a joy to see, and I want to help make these plans a reality.”
Knops commended Saba for working proactively, becoming more self-reliant and more sustainable. He said that projects like the solar park, waste management and recycling, the airport, harbor, hospital and the water bottling plant were all a “big improvement” for Saba and its people.
“I often use Saba as an example in the Dutch Parliament. You make a good plan, you stick with it and you execute it. You serve as an example,” said Knops, who announced the donation of a truck to transport the large 3 and 5 gallon water bottles that will be refilled at the new water bottling plant to and from businesses and people’s homes. The donation comes from the Ministry of I&W.
Thanking the State Secretary for his support as well as the Ministry of I&W, Commissioner Zagers said that the water bottling plant would help Saba to be more self-reliant and less dependent on the import of bottled water, which is especially useful if a situation like after hurricanes Irma and Maria were to occur again.
Zagers further mentioned the fact that water from the large reusable/refillable bottles is cheaper than buying boxes of water, which will help to bring the cost of living down for people. Since the installation of the two filling stations in The Bottom and Windwardside and the laying of the waterpipe on a large part of the island, the price of water has already gone down on average by 50 per cent.
A third important advantage of this new drinking water is the quality. The drinking water produced in the bottling plant complies with the quality standards of the BES Drinking Water Act, which includes the essential minerals required for healthy drinking water.
Also, the reusing of large water bottles is good for the environment, reduces plastics and helps to promote Saba as a green, sustainable ecotourism-oriented island. “It is good for everyone. It is a win-win situation for the environment and for people’s pockets,” said Commissioner Zagers.