MARIGOT–A group of citizens have formed a “collective for drinking water in St. Martin” to demand water producer and distributor SAUR to cease issuing water bills and refund consumers from when the ban on the bromate-contaminated drinking water was imposed. The online petition registered on Change.org has so far gathered more than 2,000 signatures.
The petition reads, “Since samples taken on May 12, residents of St. Martin have no tap water. They did not learn it until June 2019, from the Préfectural decree prohibiting the consumption of tap water on June 21. From then, inhabitants of St. Martin plunged back into the post-Irma period when everything was acceptable because of an extreme climatic event.
“It is the duty of the Territorial Council to oblige its delegate (SAUR) to provide drinking water. As this water is no longer drinkable, the population of St. Martin simply asks for an immediate stop of SAUR water bills and a retroactive refund of the bills since the Préfectural decree of June 21. Then a round table around the question of compensation will have to be organised with SAUR and representatives of the collective.
“In case law, it has been established that the delegate refunds the equivalent of two litres of bottled water per day and per person. SAUR will be able to charge for its water supply again when the situation has returned to normal.
“SAUR is contractually obliged to deliver water that meets the regulatory standards for sanitary quality of drinking water. The distribution of drinking water out of the desalination plant, scheduled on August 1, is a commendable action, but does not correspond to the contract of the delegate.
“Citizens pay to be given drinking water, not to go and get it for themselves at the production centre. Non-delivery of drinking water must result in compensation.
“The French Supreme Court recently in 2017 condemned a municipal authority to compensate consumers for water polluted with bromates.
“This case law should push us to go to court right now. But we are simply asking SAUR to stop billing until a new Préfectural order authorises again the consumption of water.
“The collective does not want to encourage the population not to pay its bills. It only asks SAUR to stop the billing and reimburse from June 21, before a compensation assessment meeting is organised.”
The petition is to be presented to Collectivité President Daniel Gibbs.