One and half months after the passage of Hurricane Irma, drinking water production and distribution has made huge progress on the island of Saint Martin. First, in terms of production, because the desalination plant is now producing more than five million liters a day, the island’s entire usual consumption. Then, in terms of distribution, more than 80% of households now have access to continuous water supply. Veolia’s teams are still working tirelessly to normalize the situation for the population.
On the island of Saint Martin, drinking water production is now higher than it was prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma. The production plant is pumping out more than five million liters of water a day, which corresponds to the population’s entire needs prior to the hurricane. This is an extraordinary achievement despite the facility still being damaged. “Our teams and our local partners have worked efficiently to repair the facility, and the desalination plant’s three osmosis lines are now operating,” explains Jean-François Nogrette, Chief Executive Officer of Veolia Water Technologies. “We are adjusting the production rate to reflect the number of leaks repaired by our colleagues. However, there is further work to be done in order to ensure the network is more effectively protected.”
The race to restore drinking water distribution has reached additional milestones, since 81% of households now have 24/24 supply. Work has, however, entered a particularly complicated phase, as the aim is now not only to reconnect those subscribers who are still without water supply, but also to complete all the essential network repairs to stabilize its operation. This phase will involve lengthy work for which a detailed diagnosis has been requested by the local authorities.
For those districts and homes where the service lines are still not connected, the families are supplied from 12 drinking water distribution points installed by the French Red Cross, the Veolia Foundation and the Saint Martin municipal authority.
Finally, with regard to wastewater, the resumption of operation of the Pointe des Canonniers wastewater treatment plant is further good news for helping prevent health risks.
In order to continue and speed up the complete resumption of all aspects of the water service, Veolia has presented an action plan to the municipal authorities and the State. Discussions are now underway about re-establishing a contractual framework for the application of public service delegation contracts and all the work required.
“Our teams are on deck day and night,” explains Cyril de Vomécourt, Director of the local Veolia teams. “Whether employees, Foundation volunteers, subcontractors or partners, the emphasis is on repairing leaks. We are currently managing six per day compared with the average of 1.5 prior to Irma. Providing the population with information is also a key point, as we work with the local authorities, the Prefecture and the Red Cross. Additionally, we are engaged with them in operations in schools to provide training to the staff on how to maintain and repair water facilities in the island’s 21 schools. We are also raising the awareness of primary and secondary school students about the conservative use of water. Additionally, we are currently discussing two draft agreements with the municipality, Education Department and the Red Cross on how best to manage and implement such initiatives.”
Veolia group is the global leader in optimised resource management. With over 163,000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them. In 2016, the Veolia group supplied 100 million people with drinking water and 61 million people with wastewater service, produced 54 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 30 million metric tonnes of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €24.39 billion in 2016. www.veolia.com
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