Ever-growing problem

Ever-growing problem

For about seven years now there is talk of a joint sewage plant for the greater Cole Bay area and Marigot, to be co-funded by the European Union (EU). Much debate has since taken place on various potential locations, with the current choice behind GEBE at Cay Bay.
Other reasons for all the delay even included a temporary “cooling off” in official relations between the Dutch and French sides over the Oyster Pond border dispute and what happened to Captain Oliver’s Marina there. In the meantime, dirty water has continued to end up in Simpson Bay Lagoon, which is obviously of great environmental and economic value for the entire island.
The latest coming from Finance Minister Ardwell Irion (see Tuesday paper) is that discussions are now taking place with the Trust Fund sponsored by the Netherlands about a plant only for St. Maarten, because US $33 million is needed for wastewater treatment on the Dutch side alone. The Steering Committee of the fund managed by the World Bank has allocated $10 million for this purpose.
At the same time, he said 11 million euros from the EU are still available for the project. However, as this was part of a cross-border cooperation programme, one is left to wonder whether that money can be used should it regard just St. Maarten.
Possibly losing European funding would be regrettable, but not the end of the world. Important is to tackle the ever-growing problem of water pollution quickly to prevent further ecological damage and the negative impact on the population’s qualify of life as well as tourism that provides for their livelihood.

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