How safe are the island’s visitors — E-coli and Legionella becoming rampant at country’s hotels.

waterfaucet13062017Minister Lee should give Members of Parliament the list of businesses that have been tested positive for E-coli and Legionella, instead of leaking CGC report to media.

PHILIPSBURG:— E-coli and Legionella are becoming a huge concern for tourist’s visiting St. Maarten since several top of the line hotels in St. Maarten were tested positive for the bacteria’s while the Minister of Health Emil Lee is doing everything possible to push a major concern for the island’s visitors under the preverbal carpet and even refused to tell Parliament how many hotels and the names of those hotels that were tested positive.
Over the years and most recently a number of cases (tourists) were reported to have contracted legionella on the island and it was reported to the Ministry of Health on St. Maarten.
SMN News understands that some hotels that are found to have legionella and E-coli are hotels that chose to go against the law of the country and distribute their own water instead of using GEBE water that is tested for any type of bacteria.
SMN News learned that Sapphire Hotel, Tamarind Hotel, Diamond Hotel, Princess Heights Hotel, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Alegria Resort were all tested positive for legionella and the problem seems not to be under full control. Some of the hotels produce their own drinking water. The National Ordinance on Drinking water clearly states that in order to produce or distribute drinking water, a permit is required basically exempting them from the use of GEBE’s network and establishing the conditions they must meet. So far only Seven Seas (production) and GEBE (distribution) have a concession/permit from government.
The Minister of Health Emil Lee told Parliament some weeks ago that a committee has been set up to monitor the water contamination issue but it is clear that the members of the committee cannot function independently because most of the members of the committee are either working for the hotels that have the recurring problem of water contamination or they are part of the SHTA where the Minister has his close friends. The chairman of the committee is the manager of Princess Heights, this, of course, is a conflict of interest for the hotel and the Minister of Health that has the responsibility to ensure that the water that these hotels distribute are safe for the island guests.
What is more disturbing to say the least is the island’s only medical facility St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) was also tested positive for legionella, and while it is known that SMMC management does not believe that they have to follow the laws of the country and ensure that quality medical care is provided to the people of St. Maarten the issue with their water distribution is the least of their concern.
Another pressing issue that government and GEBE have failed to address is the water distribution in the Maho- Low Lands area, where there is no water tank to even chlorinate the water that is distributed in that area. Not only the water in that specific area cannot be treated since there is no tank but this also poses a problem when there is water shortage since there is no holding tank.
In an invited comment from the Inspector General, Dr. Earl Best said that indeed some hotels on the island tested positive for Legionella, which can happen based on various causes. Those that were tested positive do have a program to follow to ensure that the contamination is contained and prevented. Dr. Best also confirmed that at some of the hotels the issue is recurring but assured that the Inspectorate is doing everything possible together with the SHTA committee to ensure that the hotel owners comply with the law especially if they are not authorized to distribute their own water.

Artikel 9

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1. Het is in het belang van de volksgezondheid verboden drinkwater te produceren of te distribueren zonder daartoe strekkende concessie of vergunning van, dan wel overeenkomst met, de minister.
2. Een concessie of een vergunning als bedoeld in het eerste lid wordt slechts verleend en een overeenkomst als bedoeld in dat lid wordt slechts aangegaan indien het belang van de volksgezondheid en het belang van een doelmatige voorziening van drinkwater zich daartegen niet verzetten.

Artikel 10

1. Aan een concessie of een vergunning worden voorwaarden verbonden. Een concessie of een vergunning kan onder beperkingen worden verleend.

2. De in het eerste lid bedoelde voorwaarden of beperkingen hebben ten minste betrekking op de naleving van de bij of krachtens deze landsverordening gestelde eisen ter zake van:
a. de kwaliteit van het drinkwater;
b. de bij de productie en distributie van drinkwater te gebruiken materialen en chemicaliën;
c. de levering van het drinkwater;
d. voor de levering van drinkwater op te stellen en bekend te maken algemene voorwaarden;
e. de hoeveelheid te produceren water en de druk waarmee het water via een openbaar of intern leidingnet aan tappunten beschikbaar komt;
f. wijziging in de productie of in de distributie;
g. het regelmatig onderhoud van het leidingnet;
h. de regelmatige controle van de kwaliteit van het drinkwater;
i. de melding van elke daling van de waterkwaliteit beneden het niveau van de bij artikel 12, eerste lid, of krachtens artikel 12, tweede lid, gestelde eisen;
j. de te treffen maatregelen ter voorkoming van gevaar voor de volksgezondheid in geval van daling van de waterkwaliteit beneden het niveau van de bij artikel 12, eerste lid, of krachtens artikel 12, tweede lid, gestelde eisen;
k. de te treffen maatregelen voor het zo spoedig mogelijk herstel van de waterkwaliteit op tenminste het niveau van de bij artikel 12, eerste lid, of krachtens artikel 12, tweede lid, gestelde eisen;
l. de rapportage ter zake van kwaliteitscontrole;
m. de vakbekwaamheid van het personeel werkzaam bij producenten of distributeurs van drinkwater en de door hen in acht te nemen technische en hygiënische eisen; en
n. de voorlichting aan afnemers van drinkwater.

3. Indien ter zake van de productie of distributie van drinkwater een overeenkomst wordt gesloten bevat deze overeenkomst ten minste bepalingen overeenkomende met de in het tweede lid bedoelde voorwaarden of beperkingen.

Source: St. Martin News Network
How safe are the island’s visitors — E-coli and Legionella becoming rampant at country’s hotels.