Minister De Weever to assist French side with drinking water

 In Photo: Minister Cornelius De Weever with the Dutch and the French water delegation along with representation of the cooperation agreement at their recent meeting here at the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall.

The Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever, who has the authority on drinking water supply on the Dutch side and Mr. Louis Fleming, the Président of the Etablissement des Eaux et de L’Assainisse-ment, [EEASM] the French side Water Authority on Friday July 5, and Thursday July 10, 2013 met on the respective sides of the Island to discuss an urgent need for drinking water on the Eastern part of the French side of Saint Martin. The delegation of both Water Authorities included the operations and technical staff of EEASM, GEBE, Seven Seas Water (AirFin) and the water advisors.

"As Minister responsible for drinking water we will do our best to assist our neighbors on the northern half of the island, as a means of jointly cooperating to come to a solution," said Minister De Weever.

The request for the first meeting was an initiative of EEASM. There is an urgent need to repair the reservoir on Morne Valois which supplies water to French Quarter and beyond, which includes Grand Case, French Cul de Sac, Orient, French Quarter and Oyster Pond. The repair of the reservoir and possible other works will take a few months. During these repairs the French side would like to be supplied by the Dutch side. A total of 1000 m3 per day is required. Presently the technical staffs of the distribution companies are assessing the possibilities of new connections or reinstating existing facilities at the border point and in French Quarter and Oyster Pond to supply the quantity required.

Currently the resources to produce the water are limited and the production capacity is very close to the demand of water. A new plant in Pointe Blanche is under construction but will not be operational until the last quarter of this year. However Minister De Weever considers supply of drinking water, in particular when there is urgency, an essential service to the community whether it is on the Dutch side or on the French side. Therefore all efforts will be made to comply with the French request, without continuously compromising the service on the Dutch side.

To establish the feasibility of the supply, we have to ensure that the quality of water and water pressure flowing to the French side is up to par for example will the volume of water flowing to the French side be sufficient, will the water pressure be good, EEASM and GEBE will jointly carry out hydraulic calculations. The outcome and conclusions will be available by August 16, 2013 at the next meeting.