Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2019

EU faces challenge of funding water treatment plant

GEBE power plant and Cay Bay

PHILIPSBURG –- The European Commission expects the 10th EDF planned for St Maarten from 2008-2013 to be finalized before the end of 2019. According to EU’s Interact, “following the blocking of diplomatic relations as a result of a border dispute and the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma”, it was not possible to administer funding for the Cole Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. The EU programme declared force majeure.

The border dispute dates from November 1st, 2016. The then prime minister of St. Maarten William Marlin criticized the Prefect of Saint Martin for having abused his authority during an inspection in Oyster Pond, a week earlier. “I strongly condemn the French authorities’ actions and consider these acts by the French Republic as aggressive and illegal acts which undermine St Maarten’s authority and violate its rights.”

In his St. Martin/St. Maarten Day message, Marlin asked: “Can we in light of this honestly look each other in the eye today and say we are indeed united? We must be real and accept that the unity we preach especially on St Martin Day is a farce, at least at the official level.”

Interact, whose job it is to make it easier for Overseas Territories and Countries to work with the European Commission, advises the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) and the European Development Fund (EDF) to homogenize and simplify their rules in the interest of Saint Martin/St Maarten. Under the EDRF and 11th EDF a total of 11 million euros is available for the Cole Bay Sewage Treatment Plant, servicing the communities of Cole Bay, Simpson Bay and Marigot. The EU funding covers the total cost.

The European Commission acknowledges the need for cooperation of the two parts of the island on strategic subjects such as the purification of water. Supplying water and treating waste water are critical problems for both parts of the island.

The prefect of Saint Martin wrote in the EU cooperation programme 2014-2020. “There is virtually no land available on the French side of the island to construct a treatment station, yet the existing stations are approaching the limit of their capacity and the station serving the Quartier d’Orléans does not meet European norms. The construction of a station on land in St Maarten and the connection of French networks to it would be the most appropriate way forward given the challenges facing the French side of the island.”

The solution is in line with the Water Treatment Plan of the French side, which aims to reduce the discharge of effluent into the natural environment. The station is to be located in Cole Bay and will serve a population of 17000 inhabitants, fifty percent of whom reside on the French side and fifty percent on the Dutch side.

In 2014 Saint Martin successfully made an appeal to the EU to support the development of an approach for the island as a whole and to reinforce the effort made in the French part.


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