Water Circles is a collaboration between WWF-NL, Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA), Water en Energiebedrijf Bonaire N.V. (WEB), the Public Entity Bonaire, Fundashon Mariadal and Water Alliance. They are working together to provide alternative solutions to the wastewater issues 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, and our health and safety. Water Circles focuses on finding solutions by making wastewater suitable for reuse.
This three-year project will set up five demo projects for decentralized wastewater treatment, using innovative technologies of ecologically sound 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 (vocational school training). Aside from decentralized wastewater treatment, WEB will also work on solutions with the Public Entity Bonaire to expand the capacity of the sewage treatment plant 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.
As part of the Water Circles project, the focus is also on yacht and boat owners. Yachts and large ships are not allowed to discharge wastewater within the marine nature park, which extends to a depth of 60 meters. Unfortunately, there are no facilities for the disposal of the wastewater of these vessels and therefore the regulation against illegal discharge is not enforced by STINAPA. The current mooring contracts do not include wastewater discharge. An important source of direct pollution is pleasure yachts, especially those moored above the reef on buoys, which every few days discharge their wastewater tank directly onto the reef.
The “yachts” sub-project is working on a solution to facilitate the intake of wastewater. In October 2021, Harbor Village Marine (HVM) invested in the installation of a sewage pump and a 20 m³ buffer tank to collect wastewater from yachts. While waiting for the definitive solution for an adequate way to discharge and treat the collected wastewater, HVM has starts pumping out a few yachts that are in the harbor.
One of the challenges of this sub-project is that the wastewater from yachts contains a lot of salt, as most sailors flush their toilets with seawater. The salt concentration turned out to be so high that, without further assessment, this sewer flow cannot be accepted by WEB in the public sewer system that goes to the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) without looking more closely at the consequences for the effluent. As the treated water (effluent) from the WWTP is reused and sold to resorts, it must meet certain quality criteria.
To ensure that wastewater treatment from yachts on land does not pose new problems, the Water Circles team commissioned Royal Haskoning DHV consultants to find the most suitable solution for treating the salty wastewater from yachts. Based on their recommendations, a seawater wastewater treatment test will be conducted 2022. Another plan is to bring a mobile pump-out boat to the island that can collect wastewater from yachts moored off Playa Lechi, without the boats having to go in and out of the harbor all the time to go. Afterwards the collected wastewater can be processed on land.
Read more about the Water Circles project in this brochure.