World Water Day 2023 focuses on water management on Bonaire.
On Bonaire, we have access to reliable drinking water, made from the seawater that surrounds us. We also have a sewage treatment plant that cleans wastewater from our limited sewage system and cesspits. Thus, Bonaire meets the Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 of the United Nations: everyone has access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The total Agenda consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations declared March 22 as World Water Day. Unfortunately, other parts of the world are not as lucky as Bonaire. In fact, there is a water crisis worldwide.
Water management issues on Bonaire.
Does Bonaire have the water management completely in order? Of course not. The flooding during the last rainy season has clearly demonstrated this. Our island is very dry for most of the year. But during the rainy season, Kralendijk is underwater. The trick is to collect the rainwater and store it on land in such a way that rainwater can infiltrate the soil and replenish our groundwater supply. This is important because much groundwater is too salty. That’s why Bonaire cannot have unlimited wells. The more wells, the greater the chance of brackish water. Letting the rainwater into the sea is also not an option as it wastes precious fresh water and mixes with mud. This is dangerous for our coral reefs.
Another point is the rising sea level. Climate change threatens to increase the risk of flooding parts of our island. We must take measures to prevent this or to reduce its consequences. In a fancy word, this is called climate adaptation. The Netherlands has been chopping with that ax for some time now. About 59% of the Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding.
In the coming years, we will drastically improve our water management with Dutch help. That is why we discussed the possibility of a climate table, and cooperation with the water boards has been sought. As a first step, we will design a plan to repair a few of the large dams. Together with Wageningen University, we will also map the drainage area of Saliña. Additionally, we will amend the building regulations so that cisterns and proper collection of wastewater are mandatory. This is how we try to make our island more climate-proof.