Black tanks to be made available until STUCO water supply is improved

In recent months, a lot has been said about the water rationing on Statia. To ensure water supply, STUCO will distribute up to 50 black tanks to users who are fully dependent on the water company and do not have a cistern.

Enlarge image Stuco Headquarters; aerial photo
STUCO water plant in Lower town.

In connection with the COVID 19 pandemic, the need for water availability for personal hygiene makes this matter even more urgent. Meanwhile, structural improvements shall lead to a robust water system. The tanks for households without cisterns are financed by the Public Entity of St. Eustatius with means from the COVID 19 Emergency package.

In the dry season, demand for water exceeds the production capacity, as cisterns become empty and people switch to water consumption from STUCO more often. In addition, there is a problem with the water supply network, because leakages occurred in the main pipe from the water plant to the central storage tank in Lodi.

The black tanks are made available as part of the contingency plan drafted by STUCO and the COVID 19 crisis manager Peter Glerum, at the request of Government Commissioner Van Rij. On June 10, the Government Commissioner, STUCO and GTI Statia agreed that GTI will always back up the water supply, should STUCO water production and distribution come to a standstill. This past weekend STUCO has announced the ability to distribute water 24 hours a day.

Increase in demand for STUCO water

Due to drought and increasing water consumption per household, water was supplied by ship from outside Statia in the 1980s, in time of water shortages. Demand for STUCO water gradually increased in the 1990s and early 2000s. To address the shortages, a water plant was built in 2004, initially used to replenish cisterns with water trucks. A water pipe network was installed in 2013. The number of connections to the drinking water network has increased sharply in recent years, as much as with 20% in 2019. This is much more than anticipated.

The majority of households still does not depend on STUCO for water supply. In 2020, 53% of the Statians still use alternative sources as cisterns and bottled water. As per May 2020, STUCO has 881 water connections, while there are 1.850 electrical connections. It is estimated that approximately 150 customers with a water connection do not have a cistern. The black tanks with up to 2 cubic meters capacity are intended for this group. In consultation with STUCO, the tanks are made available to the public and will be filled with drinking water in times of severe rationing.

Structural improvements for a robust water system

STUCO is working hard to make sure all residents of St. Eustatius have access to water in their home. STUCO is currently executing three projects, to improve the drinking water supply on Statia. Expansion of the water production capacity, replacement of the water transport line and the expansion of the water storage capacity.

The water production capacity at the water plant in the Lower town shall be expanded from 375 cubic meters per day to 625 cubic meters per day.

In 2016 it became clear that the material used for the water transport line is not suitable for the climatic conditions on the island. The transport line from the water factory to the storage tank is currently being renovated and enlarged. The material now used to replace the pipe would be suitable for local conditions. The new line will be operational by the end of the year as well.

A new storage tank is being built with a storage capacity of 4000 cubic meters to provide 10 days of water consumption in the dry period. This results in more back-up capacity in the water supply, so that there is no need for rationing.  

As these projects take place, a task force looks at future of the water supply on Statia. The robustness of the system and the capacity of the system in relation to population growth, economic growth, and current low degree of connection to the water supply network shall all be taken into account.

By the end of this year, drinking water should be supplied via the drinking water network without interruption. However, the works take place in the hurricane season. For instance, the renewal of the storage tank is done out in the open. Weather conditions can lead to the need for an interruption of activities.

STUCO is in the process of ordering the black tanks. Distribution is expected to take place by end the of July. Customers can coordinate with the STUCO office to have a black tank placed at their residence.