SINT MAARTEN (MOUNT WILLIAM HILL) – Adjustments are being made to the sewage network in the Mount William Hill area, following a leak that flowed onto private property. On Sunday, January 22nd, 2023, between 7PM and 7:30PM the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) was alerted of a breach of Pit #4 on the Dutch Quarter Sewage Line causing sewage to leak out of the pit onto the neighbouring property.
The leak was contained on Sunday evening when VROMI’s emergency response team from the Department of Infrastructure Management responded and provided an immediate temporary solution to stop the leakage onto private property.
Pit #4 is the last and final stop between a series of similar pits which caters to the sewage network of household connections in the greater Dutch Quarter and Belvedere area. With Pit #4 being the last pit in the chain, this pit is responsible for the final haul of pumping sewage over the top of Mount William Hill to the collection plant at A. Th. Illidge Road.
The process of pumping sewage over the hill, to the collection plant at A. Th. Illidge Road is costly and requires a high degree of maintenance and monitoring by the Department of Infrastructure Management to ensure the continued good functioning of the sewage network.
The Department of Infrastructure Management has since executed a structural analysis of Pit #4 and has concluded that this and other pits in Dutch Quarter were not installed with a liner or barrier between the liquid sewage and concrete, causing the inner walls of the pits to become deteriorated over time. Although this leak was not predictable, the issues surrounding the pits being at their end of life were known which caused them to be slated for replacement as part of the Dutch Quarter project funded by the European Union’s 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF) which officially kicked off on October 24th, 2018.
The continuation of this project is held up due to litigation between the contractor, Van Boekel Bouw and Infra B.V. and the Government of Sint Maarten. According to the Minister of VROMI, Egbert Doran, “The delays in this project caused by this legal battle is of no benefit to the Dutch Quarter community nor anyone who passes through the Dutch Quarter area, whether resident or visitor.” In February 2023, parties will return to court on this topic.
The Ministry VROMI has put a plan in motion to bypass Pit #4 by adjusting the network. However, in the interest of public health, for the time being, the transfer of sewage to the A. Th. Illidge Road facility will take place by means of trucking for the next coming days until the bypass is installed and tested.
“It is my intention to bring about a real change in the lives of the residents of Lower Princes Quarter and those who visit that area. I believe that every community in our beautiful Sint Maarten should mirror the progress that we seek and enjoy. Belvedere, Bethlehem, Mount William Hill, Nazareth, Garden of Eden, and the general Dutch Quarter area deserve to see this change in the short term. I am working hard to remedy the mistakes that have plagued our people for too long,” said Minister Doran.
The Ministry has also started talks with the landowners at this location. Over 25 years ago, the family allowed Government to place the pit on their property in anticipation of Government buying the property. Unfortunately, that never took place. Despite this oversite, the family continues to be cooperative of which the ministry is grateful. The Ministry is working diligently to lay this matter to rest.
In the long term, the Ministry VROMI will budget to install localized modular water treatment plants based on Verdygo technology for Dutch Quarter and other highly populated areas on Sint Maarten and completely phase out pumping of sewage over Mount William Hill.
Source: Soualiga Newsday https://www.soualiganewsday.com