The roots of these banana trees help to absorb treated effluent from Leonald Conner Primary School’s wastewater treatment system. (NRPB file photo)
CAY BAY--The wastewater treatment system at the Leonald Conner Primary School in Cay Bay has now fully resumed operations, thanks to repairs conducted through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund.
ECYS Minister Rodolphe Samuel and VROMI Minister Egbert Doran signing the handover documents.
The school’s wastewater treatment plant was destroyed during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.
Through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, a total of 19 schools are being repaired through its Emergency Recovery Project (ERP-1). Leonald Conner was one of the first three schools completed under this project, which focuses on repairing hurricane damage and making the affected buildings more resilient to natural disasters.
The repairs at Leonald Conner went beyond the standard repairs to doors, windows, and roofs. The entire wastewater treatment system was returned to working order. The work consisted of a series of restorations to the system’s control panel, sewage water storage tank, electric cabling, pumps, float switches, external pipes, and oxygen diffusers.
The system works by collecting wastewater and neutralizing its harmful chemicals and pathogens through benign bacteria and several aeration cycles. The effluent is then released into a leach field lined with rows of banana trees. These plants absorb some of the treated discharge preventing the wastewater from flowing freely on the surface.
After a six-month testing period, the repaired wastewater treatment system was officially handed over to the Government of Sint Maarten and the management of Leonald Conner School.
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel signed the handover documents during a small ceremony on March 6. “Thank you to everyone involved who contributed to its fruition. It is important that every school has a proper wastewater solution. With the completion of this project, it is a step in the right direction to the schools having their own in-house wastewater treatment system,” said Samuel, commending the work of stakeholders involved.
Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran was also present and affixed his signature to the document. As Leonald Conner is a public school, the operation and maintenance of its wastewater treatment system is the responsibility of the VROMI Ministry.
Doran was happy to see the completion of the repair works, emphasizing that addressing Sint Maarten’s wastewater issues is high on his priority list. “I am happy that I was able to be a part of this occasion. Part of my vision, as is incorporated in the Spatial Development Strategy, is for a strong focus to be placed on the ability to be self-sustainable and ensure
these strategies and practices are environmentally friendly. I look forward to assisting with more projects such as this to better prepare our children for the future,” said Doran.
“The St. Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund is not only there to repair hurricane damage, but, if even in the smallest way, contribute to St. Maarten’s Resiliency. I am pleased that we were able to repair and restore the wastewater treatment system at Leonard Conner School. These repairs are a direct result of the objectives of our projects. With the other operational repairs that were completed previously, I’m also happy to know that the school’s students and staff now have a restored sound environment in which they can learn, grow, work, and develop,” said National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor.
The St. Maarten Trust Fund is financed by the government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the government of St. Maarten.