photo: Dutch Parliament

THE HAGUE – The government has to act faster when it comes to finding a solution for the problems with potable water on Statia, was the stance of Parliament during a debate on Wednesday with state secretary Knops. Letting inhabitants wait for six months is not an option, different parties opine.

Inhabitants have only been able to make use of tap water for a few hours a day for weeks on end now. On some days, water doesn’t even flow out of the tap. The problems seem to be multiplying every week, with watermains that burst next to the roads.

A lot of islanders, and especially those with cisterns, will have to ‘keep emergency measures in mind till the end of the year’. “I can’t paint a pretty picture, but we’re doing everything we can to guarantee the supply of potable water”, said state secretary Knops (Kingdom Relations).

‘Inhabitants can’t wait for six months’
A letter from minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and the words of state secretary Knops, weren’t enough to quell the concerns of certain parties. The D66, CDA, ChristenUnie, GroenLinks, and PvdA demanded, through a motion, that the government ‘urgently’ provides help to the island so that the potable water issues will be resolved.

Parliament debates about the water problems on Statia

Statia is also dealing with the corona crisis during which the RIVM calls upon individuals to wash their hands often. Besides that water is and remains a necessity for life, the parties emphasize. “Inhabitants cannot wait for six months to have enough potable water”, says MP Antje Diertens (D66).

GroenLinks has asked parliamentary questions about the situation two times during the past few weeks. “The solution to the problem has not yet been presented”, MP Nevin Özütok states. “Inhabitants don’t have alternatives in the meantime such as cisterns, which were discouraged through official policies.”

School closes due to water shortage
Additionally the Gwendoline van Puttenschool had to send its kids home this week because they didn’t have water one day and couldn’t guarantee their hygiene. “We’ve agreed with the schools that they can get their water delivered by tankers”, Knops said about this situation.

Government promises speedier solutions
When speedier solutions will be made available and what those would look like, the state secretary could not say. Knops says that he will be consulting with the minister of Infrastructure Cora van Nieuwenhuizen. “Everything that was said about it, I agree with. This is supposed to be taken care of”, says Knops.