photo: Utility company Stuco on Statia

THE HAGUE — Statians have not been able to rely on potable water flowing out of their pipes for weeks now. The National Ombudsman finds this ‘unacceptable’ and wants a speedy explanation from the Dutch government.

Inhabitants in this Caribbean municipality can only get water from the tap for a few hours a day. Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen calls the rationing of water a ‘grave situation’, especially taking hygiene into account in the fight against coronavirus.

Water rationing
The utility company, Stuco, has been dealing with different issues since April 15th. The local government on Statia cannot shed light on the situation, while they are the owner of the utility company.

On Tuesday Van Zupthen sent a letter to the Dutch government in which he demands that the water problems ‘be addressed immediately’. The people are worried and frustrated, a few inhabitants told Caribbean Network in April.

The rationing of water for days and sometimes weeks has been going on for years. The utility company also regularly fails to supply water during the daily allotted times, even during the corona crisis.

Notable letter to the Dutch government
It’s a rare occurrence when the National Ombudsman sends a letter with such urgency to the Dutch government. Van Zutphen wants to clarify the situation for the inhabitants quickly. The Ombudsman is also considering a formal inquiry into the situation.

GroenLinks-MP Nevin Özütok was shocked by the stories put forth by the inhabitants. She submitted Parliamentary questions three weeks ago (in Dutch), but those remain unanswered.

Marnix van Rij, the government commissioner responsible for the island, told Caribbean Network this month that he is considering using his authority to let technicians onto the island, despite the lockdown, to help solve the disruptions.

Questions by National Ombudsman regarding the water issues on Statia

• How many Statians are deprived of water in their own homes?
• How do Statians who don’t have water in their homes get their water?
• Is it true that water is only available for a few hours daily, and if so for how many hours a day?
• How is this situation being handled and when will it be resolved?
• Considering the lack of water, in which manner can Statians practice the essential hygiene necessary to fight the corona virus?
• How are Statians being informed about the hygiene regulations keeping in mind that they lack water?

Read the letter to state secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) here (in Dutch) and the one (also in Dutch) to government commissioner for Statia, Marnix van Rij, here.