Finding solutions for threats to corals

Currently only 10% of the households on Bonaire are connected to a central sewage system. Fortunately, this will change soon. Bonaire’s deputy Hennyson Thielman (Spatial Development, Infrastructure, Environment) recently announced that more neighborhoods will be connected to the sewage network.

Wastewater is a harmful for people, the ocean and corals

Why is this so important? A lot of untreated water from households and companies is discharged into the living environment. Wastewater is for people, the ocean, and precious corals. The untreated discharge of wastewater is an assessment for the health of the inhabitants and visitors of Bonaire. It can also cause the coral to die. There are several threats for corals, but wastewater is one of the biggest threats.

Therefore, WWF-NL welcomes this development regarding the sewage network on Bonaire. A few years ago, Kirsten Schuijt, the previous general director of WWF-NL, called on the Rutte IV cabinet to invest in a properly functioning wastewater treatment system on Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba.

Reuse of treated wastewater can be used for agriculture © Casper Douma

Water Circles

WWF-NL is working with local partners in the Water Circles project to find partial solutions for wastewater. The Water Circles partners consist of the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB), Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA), Water- en Energiebedrijf Bonaire (WEB), Water Alliance and WWF-NL.

Water Circles will realize a maximum of 5 pilot projects for decentralized wastewater treatment using proven and robust technologies in the field of (ecological) wastewater treatment. By ensuring that wastewater no longer leaks and washes away, but is treated and reused, the corals are better protected. With reuse you can think of rinse water, washing water, toilet water, irrigation water for agriculture and gardens, water for reforestation and ecologically healthy water as a supplement in ponds, reservoirs, and groundwater.

Ocean expert Monique van de Water: ” We strive for a win-win situation: protection of nature and cost savings of water for the user.”

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

In addition to wastewater, the coral disease Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a major threat to corals. SCTLD is a highly contagious disease that affects corals, leading to tissue loss and eventually killing the coral colonies. It was first identified in Florida in 2014, since then it has spread to 22 countries in the Caribbean. In recent months, SCTLD has been observed in the waters of Bonaire and Curaçao. If action is not taken soon, this will be disastrous for the islands that depend heavily on the beautiful corals: the main attraction for tourists. WWF-NL has approached nature organizations to offer their support for working on an effective plan of action. “We are optimistic that through multiple interventions for different threats and in collaboration with partners, we will succeed in keeping the corals healthy,” said Monique.

Corals in Bonaire © Casper Douma



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