St. Maarten’s utility co. (GEBE) to manage, maintain expanded sewage treatment facility

POSTED: 06/14/11 12:33 PM

St. Maarten – Work officially began on the expansion of the sewage treatment plant on the A. Th. Illidge Road on Monday afternoon when the St. Maarten Minister of Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Theodore Heyliger drove the first pile. The project has been on the drawing board for nearly 16 years.

The existing facility was originally built in 1992 for just Philipsburg. The expanded facility will serve Middle Region, Cole Bay, Ebenezer and Philipsburg and increase the capacity by four times the present amount. Once it’s completed Heyliger has stressed the important role that GEBE will have to play.

“GEBE will be the one to manage and maintain the facility and has also the ability to install the sewage lines, thus giving GEBE an important role to play,” Heyliger said.

GEBE’S Managing Director William Brooks stressed managing and maintaining the facility will be  expensive for the company, but he has pledged they are committed.

“This project is very, very necessary. With the speed of the growth on the island we need this. Getting it is one thing and maintenance will be another. We will work with government to maintain this project for the people of St. Maarten and I hope this will be a state of the art project,” Brooks said.

Work on the new facility will take 18 months and the 16.3 million guilder cost is funded by the Government of St. Maarten, the Dutch government through Usona and the European Union. The project was first conceptualized in 1996, after Hurricane Luis and Hurricane Marilyn ravaged the island in 1995. Four years later in 2000, Windward Roads submitted the lowest and winning bid, but the project did not get started. Some 10 years later the adjusted project was put on bid again and Windward Roads again won the bid.

“This is a big step forward in processing the entire island’s sewage,” the Managing Director of Windward Roads Jan Hendrik Boekaar said.

Udo Aron, who works at Usona, has welcomed the start of construction on the largest project financed by Usona. He also said it was part of a process that includes legislation, policy, and the installation of technical infrastructure.

“There is pressure on the infrastructure and we all know it needs expansion. This new facility will be an important part of the island’s infrastructure,” Aron said.

Head of the Department of New Projects in the Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Kurt Ruan has said the government kept the project alive because they realize that everyone is concerned about sewage on the island.

“We have gotten here through diligence and because sewage is a concern for all of us. I should state here that this facility will only work well if the volume of sewage we’ve planned for is flowing into it. We have planned this facility to accommodate the waste of between 60, 000 and 70, 000 people because the population is projected to grow to between 60, 000 and 65, 000 by 2015,” Ruan said.

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