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

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