BONAIRE—The Water Platform of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (WNAA) was officially founded last week as the Caribbean Water Association. The new association which is registered in Bonaire, was baptized in the presence of Ing. H De Palm, WEB Bonaire Managing Director, Mr. Ben Statia, Distribution Manager Aqualectra and President of the CWA and Diana de Meza, Coordinator of the CWA.
GEBE Managing Director, William Brooks, joined his counterparts in expressing his satisfaction at this important milestone for the organization. "We are all in the same position as water companies in the Caribbean. We have the responsibility to provide cost effective and quality drinking water to our communities. So it is only logical that we continue to work together to achieve these common goals by doing joint research, investigating new technologies and investing in joint training. Together we are able to achieve cost savings, economies of scale and enjoy a wealth of expertise."
The CWA will maintain the same goals as the WNAA but will also focus on closer cooperation in the fields of water production, water distribution and knowledge exchange between the Caribbean islands.
The new vision is to "Integrate the complete drinking water cycle". The basic idea is to make better use of the different water resources such as rain water, sea water and waste water. There is a lot of potential for development in waste water treatment in our islands which is currently simply discharged to the sea or to the ground via septic systems. Other areas of focus for the CWA are enhancing the public’s trust in municipal water supplies and the promotion of renewable energy sources to produce water.
The association is planning a number of meetings, seminars, trainings and lectures to meet its objectives. It will also work together with similar organizations to find innovative solutions to water related problems.
The current board consists of Ben Statia, President, Jossy Lacle Treasurer, and Diana De Meza, secretary. There will be no major changes to the organization which consist of various work groups and a board. The CWA is considering the addition of a work group to study how the member utilities can increase customer service. The CWTRI, which was formed to formalize the scientific research with international universities, will also be transformed into a work group in the new CWA structure.
Since 2004 GEBE has been a member of the association that has been an unofficial workgroup of utility companies in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, cooperating and sharing information on a number of water related issues including water quality, water production processes, water safety and security, human resource development and training, Legionnaires disease, and public relations.
The vast wealth of expertise in the workgroup led to a quick expansion attracting partnership with, the University of the Netherlands Antilles, SWM, a utility company in Suriname, the Anton de Kom University in Suriname, the , the TU Delft University, a Dutch utility company, Oasen, and the Dutch Association of Water Companies (VEWIN). The workgroup also established the Caribbean Water Technology & Research Institute (CWTRI) that focuses on researching new technologies in drinking water production, distribution and quality control.
GEBE has taken an active role in the association benefiting from the economies of scale, joint research and training. With the transition of Saba and Statia to the BES islands, the relations with Dutch water companies for drinking water quality standards has been very useful. Further, with GEBE developing the waste water treatment on St. Maarten, the input of knowledge and expertise from within the association and its partners is advantageous.