Wastewater management: looking at the bigger picture

On December 16, 2021 the Water Circles team organized an online information session for the yacht owners.The purpose of this session was to give information about the mission of the Water Circles team and the solutions that are proposed for wastewater treatment on the island. The Water Circles team also responded to questions and concerns of the yacht owners. The presentation of the information session can be read here: http://www.boneiruduradero.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Information-session-cruisers-community-final-16-Dec-21-1.pdf. The Water Circles team has also written answers to the most frequently asked questions and comments which can be viewed in this document: http://www.boneiruduradero.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Frequently-Asked-Questions-and-posed-statements-by-yacht-owners.pdf

Water Circles is a collaboration between the World Wide Fund for Nature – the Netherlands, STINAPA, the Water and Electricity Company Bonaire (WEB), the Public Entity Bonaire, Fundashon Mariadal and Water Alliance. They are working together to provide alternative solutions to the wastewater issues in Bonaire. During the information session, the results and recommendations of the Marine Wastewater Survey 2021 by Gerard van Erp was presented. All results and recommendations of this research can be found online: https://www.boneiruduradero.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Marine-Waste-Water-Survey-Bonaire-2021_def.pdf

Photo credit: Casper Douma

According to the Water Circles team the illegal sewage dumping by visiting yacht owners should be adequately addressed by no longer allowing this practice and offering a mobile pump out service as an alternative. The team also expressed its disappointment in the message framing of the article that was published by the Bonaire Reporter, Issue 22, from November 24th until December 8th, 2021. This article states that the pump-out system placed at Harbour Village Marina could save the reefs, which is a heavy exaggeration. The way that the information was presented in this news item, portrays the yacht owners as the biggest cause of the wastewater issue on the island, which is not how they deserve to be portrayed. The recommendations that are presented by the Water Circles team could be part of the solutions for the wider wastewater management in Bonaire.

The main goal of the Water Circles project is that wastewater in Bonaire doesn’t end up in the ocean, creating a threat to the coral reefs, our health and safety. Water Circles focuses on finding solutions by making wastewater suitable for reuse. This 3-year project will set up 5 demo projects for decentralized wastewater treatment, using innovative technologies of (ecological) wastewater treatment. The successful demos can then serve as an example for other locations in Bonaire and the region. Furthermore, this project involves local training of technicians by offering a water purification module during their MBO study. Aside from decentralized wastewater treatment, WEB will also work on solutions with the Public Entity Bonaire to expand the capacity of the RWZI to accommodate for extra wastewater coming in. The Public Entity Bonaire has applied for funding to expand the sewerage system and to develop an integrated vision for wastewater management.

One of the results of Water Circles’ main goal, is that the fee structure needs to be reviewed. They suggested an increase of the overnight mooring fees as part of a total restructuring of the Bonaire National Marine Park visitor fee. STINAPA submitted a proposal for a new mooring policy to the Public Entity of Bonaire which is currently under review. Most questions and concerns from the yacht owners were related to the proposed new mooring policy. The Water Circles team will share a detailed presentation including answers to the frequently asked questions online in order to give extra information to the yacht owners. The Water Circles team will continue to provide regular updates about the proposed changes deriving from this project to the yachting community and the general public. The entire community in Bonaire can contact the Water Circles team at any time via email projectwatercircles@gmail.com.

Marine Wastewater Survey

Marine Wastewater Survey 2021

In April 2021, marine surveyor Gerard van Erp started the Marine Wastewater Survey 2021 on yachts that are attached on the moorings in the Bonaire National Marine Park. Discharging raw sewage into the sea around Bonaire is harmful. The results of the study are clear. It is essential to collect and process wastewater to end the current discharge of wastewater directly above the coral reef. This research was carried out on behalf of and in collaboration with STINAPA Bonaire, the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB), the Water en Energiebedrijf Bonaire (WEB) and the World Wide Fund for Nature – The Netherlands (WWF-NL).

The findings and conclusions of the study are alarming. Every year a large amount of untreated wastewater is discharged directly into the sea from the yachts. A great part of this discharge takes place directly above the reef. The sea around Bonaire is home to some of the best preserved coral reefs in the Caribbean and these are very sensitive to pollution from wastewater.

Marine Wastewater Survey

This is an undesirable situation that can be dealt with if an alternative is provided. STINAPA, OLB, WEB and WWF-NL are working together with the marinas on a sustainable solution to give the corals a chance to recover. The solution that is being worked on is one where a mobile pump-out boat can collect the wastewater from the yachts for processing on land.

The extra costs for this can be covered by an increase of the fees. Visiting yachts now pay as little as $10 a night to be attached on a mooring buoy. A much higher fee is often applied elsewhere in the Caribbean.

In a period of 3 weeks, approximately 70 yachts on Bonaire were visited and surveyed, and samples of the wastewater from some of the yachts were also taken and analyzed. Through this way, knowledge has been gained about the quantity and quality of the wastewater. The results also gave an insight of the facilities that are on board (or are missing) on ​​many yachts to store or process wastewater.

The processing of wastewater from yachts still proves to be a challenge. The wastewater is very salty and that affects the quality of the water for reuse as irrigation water. The relevant organizations are still talking with experts and looking for a solution. They are also open to suggestions. There was a great willingness from the yacht owners and port operators to participate in this research. STINAPA, OLB, WEB and WWF-NL would like to thank everyone who contributed to this research.

Detailed results about the Marine Wastewater Survey 2021 can be found here.

For more information or suggestions, please contact Monique van de Water: mwater@wwf.nl

Interview with Emieck de Goede Watersports Photographer

Boneiru Duradero (BD) has developed a FREE E-learning program about single use plastics. The goal of this online program is to offer everyone on Bonaire basic knowledge about the importance of single use plastics (SUP) reduction. Because many of these plastic products inadvertently end up in our nature or surrounding sea. The E-learning program features the work of photographer Emieck de Goede. Here is his take on Bonaire & Photography.

Why Bonaire is a great place to live

“Bonaire offers the perfect conditions for someone like me who loves watersports, there’s wind almost all year round and the water is warm. I started True Media & Culture by photographing wind-and kite surfers, says Emieck de Goede. “There are lots of surf professionals on Bonaire, who want high quality watersports pictures to use for sponsor purposes or for their own social media platforms. I like to push everyone to the limit when it comes to these photographs. Combining the incredible athletic skills of the surfers with my own artistic skills. Together we try to create the perfect picture.”

Favorite subject to photograph

“Watersports photography is very close to my heart. It gives me the most satisfaction, because the surfers and I share the same passion. But every creative process is rewarding to me. Especially when a photograph turns out exactly the way I had pictured it in my head.”

Can photography help to raise awareness?

“A good picture tells a story, but a great picture inspires people to take action. I hope that my photographs can contribute to raising awareness and changing behavior on Bonaire. That was my main motivation to collaborate with the Sushi òf Dushi campaign and the Single Use Plastics E-learning Program.”

Photographic eye

I’m convinced that people would have more appreciation for nature if they could see it through the eyes of a photographer. Photography is about getting all the details right. So, it is important to remove elements that can disturb the image, like for example plastic waste polluting our beautiful island. Bonaire is at its best when its clean, because who wants to look at nature pictures that have litter in them.

Trasame Vision

This Vision Document details why and how WWF-NL developed and implemented an online Grassroots Workshop on Bonaire. WWF-NL collaborated closely with Sea Going Green in developing this tailormade workshop. The document explains how a group of carefully selected local partners worked together to realize: 1. A Feasible Strategy, 2. Concrete Activities and 3. An Online Platform for an overarching organization. The result was an emerging organization called Trasame’. The objective for Trasame’ is to advance civic engagement on Bonaire through youth Education & Awareness Campaigns and Advocating & Supporting cross sector collaboration.