Recommends Against Using Proposed Location
PHILIPSBURG:— The St. Maarten Nature Foundation, in response to reports regarding the filling in of a significant portion of the Simpson Bay Lagoon for the building of a sewage treatment plan, conducted ecological monitoring and Environmental Impact Assessments of the proposed area in order to determine how diverse and rich the area is in terms of biodiversity such as fish life, mangroves and seagrasses and how that will be impacted by the proposed filling. The twenty seven page study was published on Tuesday after ten days of in-depth research and has been distributed to decision-makers.
“The Nature Foundation recognizes and supports the need for the establishment of a sewage treatment plant in order to urgently address the introduction of sewage in the country’s largest and most important wetland, the Simpson Bay Lagoon,” read a Nature Foundation statement. During patrols in the Lagoon and during water quality tests which are carried out frequently the Foundation established scientifically that sewage entering into the Lagoon is a serious issue and is affecting the health, biodiversity and economic value of an area which is of utmost importance to St. Maarten; “The constructing of a Sewage Treatment Plan, together with proper law enforcement and follow-up, will contribute to the reduction of waste water entering into the Lagoon,” continued the statement.
However, the Nature Foundation, as a conservation management organization, on its own volition and without being requested to do so, thought it crucial to conduct a scientific study of the area proposed in order to gauge the impact the filling in of a significant area of the Lagoon will have on the area’s biodiversity. Over the course of ten days research was conducted in order to determine what the area looks like and make a recommendation based on established scientific methods and not on emotion or guesswork.
“The research conducted by the Nature Foundation clearly shows that the proposed area is of a high biological value both above the water; in terms of mangrove density which provides important wetland habitat for birds and provides shelter during inclement weather such as hurricanes; and under water in terms of significant habitat for seagrasses, which are severely threatened in the Simpson Bay Lagoon as well as species of fish and invertebrates which are relatively abundant in the area.
“Based on the conducted research the Nature Foundation is also concerned regarding the flow of water in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and how subsequent filling will affect this. The increase in algal blooms, some which may be harmful to human health, can occur if the water dynamics in the Lagoon are drastically changed through increased filling. Water quality in the proposed area was also recorded to be much better than in other sections of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
“Taking these considerations into account, and based on the results of the conducted research and monitoring, the Nature Foundation cannot give a scientifically backed positive advice on using the proposed area as the most suitable location for the construction of a sewage treatment plant for the Cole Bay/ Simpson Bay area.
“The Nature Foundation, as appointed Ecosystem Authority for St. Maarten, looks forward to constructive dialogue backed by suggestions grounded in scientific research and monitoring, for the solving of the waste water issue in the Simpson Bay/ Cole Bay Area and is, as always prepared to advice and recommend management options for environmental issues facing St. Maarten and the associated conservation measures,” concluded the Nature Foundation Statement.
Source: St. Martin News Network Nature Foundation Researches Impact on the Environment of Proposed Sewage Treatment Plant Location.