Our Sewer System is Overloaded

In November in an AHATA meeting, representatives of DOW visited the General Assembly with updates on the outdated Bubali water treatment plant.

It is February now, and we were just told that DOW will be doing some routine maintenance at the plant using heavy equipment.

This is what I wrote in June last year: Based on existing calculation the current aeration system for whatever we deposit into Bubali Plas, cannot achieve the oxygen level required to break it down, and ‘clean’ it. The current efficiency is lower than 50% and has a negative impact on the wetland at Bubali Plas. Because Bubali Plas runs the overflow into the sea, it may cause irrecoverable damages to marine life. The high level of ‘nutrients’ in the water we dispose into the ocean, affects our coral reefs negatively, resulting in beach erosion. Of course, this may affect tourism, but if we WANT tourists, we’d better come up with a treatment plan of their wastewater!

The quote was taken from a report: Preliminary Business Case for RWZI Bubali Aeration System, RWZI=Riool Water Zuiverings Instalatie, a 34-page technical paper by TNO, an independent, a-political entity. It outlined the potential problems associated with high-risk for calamities to our environment. The report also outlines scientific solutions, all concerning the Bubali Plas.

During the Governor’s New Year reception, at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino I met the hard working director of DOW and asked what’s next, now that the road infrastructure project is quasi-finished.

Bubali, he said. Bubali requires our full attention. Labeled an environmental risk, by DOW, it is however plagued by budget & legislation limitation.

Two other DOW projects, Zeewijk, and Parkietenbos, were labeled inefficient and vulnerable, in essence, our sewer system is overloaded

At a recent dinner, toes in the sand, at an Eagle beach-front restaurant, within a nose shot from the Bubali water treatment plant, we did not appreciate the raw sewer aromas wafting in the nigh air, hovering above our delicious seabass in white wine.

Back to that AHATA meeting: As stated by DOW’s spokesperson, ultrasound testing performed on the structure resulted in evidence of degrading concrete, exposed rebar, fluid seepage, flaking, and micro cracks.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Taking into account the inspection observations, visual evidence, proximity of the tank to a high traffic tourist area and the potential for environmental damage, it is highly recommended that a retaining wall be constructed around the entire tank. For about Awg 581,940.00

(If they had started in October 2019, that would be finished today!)

The Bubali water treatment plant was constructed in 1972, but with the population increase, the daily flow and aeration required increased. As mentioned, our current system must be fixed first, then a new aeration system built, in about nine months, for 12 million florins.

Apparently, a Ministerial Council already made a decision that ATA’s calamity fund will finance the project, and in the meeting some hoteliers pledged buying back the gray water, for their gardens, a win-win. Farmers will be happy too.

What are we waiting for?

China is building two hospitals in less than two weeks, to combat coronavirus, and we can’t fix a 50-year old tank, with planning since December 2018??  

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February 03, 2020
Rona Coster