GREAT BAY – “Drinking tap water in St. Maarten is discouraged.” Vitens, the largest producer of potable water in the Netherlands, gives this advice on its web site waterinhetbuitenland.nl.
“Water from the tap is drinkable, but most people buy bottled water that is available everywhere. Always check whether the bottle has been opened before. Consume soft drinks only from bottles and do not use ice cubes,” the advice continues.
Visitors to the site have criticized the advice. “Complete nonsense, Johannes Linkels posted a month ago on the site. “Tap water in St. Maarten meets the same and even higher standards than water in the Leeward Islands.”
And Hans M. adds: “Tap water is drinkable, but because it always comes lukewarm out of the tap it is not really refreshing. Furthermore the taste can be a bit less neutral than we are used to in the Netherlands. It is correct that many people buy bottled water. Not just because of the taste but also to have water in stock in case of a storm. During the hurricane season things can go crazy and in those situations electricity and the water supply can be interrupted.”
Saba gets an even worse advice from Vitens: “Tap water in Saba is unsafe to drink.” The company advises to always boil, filter or disinfect tap water.
The company is apparently unaware that Saba does not have a water distribution network – so there is no tap water in the sense it is understood in the Netherlands.
The tap water in Curacao gets the nod of approval from the site. “The drinking water in Curacao is safe and has a good bacteriological balance. It does not contain chloride, it is soft, has almost no calcium and it is odor and tasteless.”
Not everybody agrees: ‘The quality has deteriorated and we certainly don’t have the best drinking water here,” one visitor wrote. “It does not kill us but there is still a difference between good and bad.”
Aruba also gets a positive advice: it’s tap water is safe. “It can be consumed from the tap without any problem and it has an excellent taste.”
Aruban visitors to the site agree: “Lovely water, no chalk. Not only tasty but also pleasant to skin, hair and clothing.” And someone with more than average knowledge of tap water reported: “The water in Aruba is better than anywhere else. I have built the water installations over there. It all comes from desalinated seawater.”
Vitens put a disclaimer on the website, saying that the site provides “general information about the water quality in different countries.” Furthermore, Vitens points out that the water quality can be affected by the distribution process and says that its information is “not a drinking advice.”
The company says that it has put together the information on the site with care. “But Vitens cannot guarantee that the information is complete, correct or current. Vitens therefore cannot be held liable for possible damages caused by the information on this site.”
To emphasize this point, Vitens notes: “By using this website you indicate that you have read this disclaimer and that you agree with it.”