The National Ombudsman is calling on Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij and State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops to take immediate action to tackle the water problem on Sint Eustatius. Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen says he has been receiving worrying signals about the island’s acute water shortage for some time now: “Now more than ever, when everyone has to wash their hands frequently to prevent infection with coronavirus, it is vital for the authorities to intervene in the very short term. A failing water supply is an unacceptable challenge for the inhabitants of Sint Eustatius to be facing in these circumstances.”
The Ombudsman wants more clarity about the facts of the situation on the island before deciding whether an inquiry is necessary.
Water rationing during corona crisis
The management and maintenance of the mains water network is an island responsibility. Stuco, the company that supplies the island with water (with Sint Eustatius’s public body as its sole shareholder), has introduced a system of water rationing. For the time being, residents can only get water from the tap for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. Water is a basic human need. The corona outbreak also makes water an essential element of any campaign of hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Without an adequate water supply, there is every chance that the island’s efforts to combat the coronavirus will fail. The Dutch government is responsible for dealing with the corona crisis, a duty the Ombudsman has emphatically noted in his call to action.