Contingency guidelines: STUCO urges Statians not to fill cisterns to prevent peak loading

Over the last weeks, the community of Statia has experienced interruptions of the STUCO water supply. Interruptions are caused by breakdowns of the water delivery system and by rationing, to preserve water. Specifically, households without cisterns are experiencing difficulties.

Structural improvements of the water delivery system are expected by the end of the year. Until then, contingency guidelines for usage water are necessary. The Public Entity and STUCO call upon the public not to fill up cisterns with STUCO water. As part of the contingency measures, free water can be picked up by truck at the STUCO plant. Meanwhile, a structural long term solutions for a more solid water supply is planned for later this year.

It is important to note that there is sufficient water on the island and STUCO’s plants are able to meet public demand, despite significant growth in demand for water in the last years. However, there are weaknesses in the water delivery system, that causes interruptions. Therefore, repairs and rationing are necessary to deliver water. For the system to function, water pressure is necessary.

The pressure drops because too many households use too much water at the same time. Another challenge results from the fact the peak loading of the water supply is caused by people filling up cisterns simultaneously, as soon as STUCO restarts the water supply. Peak loading because of households filling up the cistern and a drop in water pressure, have a number of harmful consequences:

Households without a cistern have no access to water.
This is the far minority of households on Statia. About half of all households have a STUCO connection, the other half uses water from cisterns, bottled water and other sources. A major part of households using STUCO have cisterns as well.

The STUCO water delivery system runs dry, which is very damaging to the system.

There is insufficient pressure to transport water from the plant in Lower Town to the Lodi storage tank, 115 meters higher up. Besides having enough buffer in case of emergency, keeping the level of water up in this tank is important, because the water prevents the tank from being blown away if a hurricane occurs.

Although filling up cisterns by home owners is an understandable, precautionary measure, it is in fact unnecessary. STUCO and the Public Entity intend to start monitoring water usage per household to address peak loading.

During those periods when the water supply is interrupted for repairs or if households do not have any water available at all, up to 1,000 gallons of water can be collected for free at the water plant in Lower Town. Customers can coordinate  their own transportation the STUCO office.

STUCO guarantees water for hospitals, medical facilities and schools at all times. Households that depend on STUCO and do not have cisterns are contacted and informed about how to manage water, to safeguard hygiene, specifically in this time of COVID 19 precaution measures.

The contingency guidelines are aimed to overcome the period until structural improvements are implemented in the STUCO water distribution system. To improve the consistency and capacity of the water supply on Statia, a new water plant is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2020. Replacing the pipes transporting water and increased storage capacity is being worked on as well and should be realized in the course of this year.

“STUCO very much regrets this inconvenience to the general public; however we can assure you that we are doing all possible in order to keep the water flowing; and trust that the public also, once water is available, to use this sparingly and not to fill up their cisterns. As such the community must be encouraged to make use of bottled water for drinking.” says STUCO Director Fred Cuvalay.