Photo of sewage leak – Photo The Daily Herald  

PHILIPSBURG–A “significant” amount of sewage run-off from a large French side public septic tank has been flowing into Oyster Pond and contaminating waters on the Dutch side at “an alarming rate” since last week, reported Nature Foundation on Tuesday. Up to fifty litres or more per day of raw sewage is estimated to be flowing into Oyster Pond.

The sewage flow was documented by the foundation. Water quality tests were conducted to directly determine the composition of the effluent entering Oyster Pond. “This is an on-going situation that directly effects the environment of the Dutch Side since currents carry the (confirmed) raw sewage directly into St. Maarten’s territory.

The water quality tests show significant sewage run-off from the public septic tank. Solid faecal matter and bits of used toilet paper were also seen entering the pond by the foundation representative. Although the tank is on the French side, the sewage directly enters Oyster Pond and through current movement spills out into Dawn Beach. This and can affect the bathing beach and coral reefs along the eastern shore of the island.

Downstream an increase in sewage indicator algae has occurred. This type of algae can significantly damage coral reefs. There has also been a rise of the algae within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. This may be the result of a large amount of sewage entering from this particular area in Oyster Pond, said the foundation.

The foundation was made aware of the situation by business owners operating in Captain Oliver’s Marina. The business owners in the area told the foundation they have contacted the French side authorities repeatedly about the problem, but it has not been addressed.

Nature Foundation has communicated its findings to authorities from both sides of the island and has urged them to solve the matter “urgently and expeditiously.”

Contacted Tuesday, Louis Fleming, President of Etablissement des Eaux et Assainissement de St. Martin (EEASM), the main entity that manages potable water, sewage and drainage on the French side said to date it had not received any complaints about the problem mentioned. Fleming, however, assured that his director of services would look into the matter today, Wednesday, and report back on his findings.

Réserve Naturelle Director Nicolas Maslach was also informed of the complaint and the Nature Foundation release forwarded to him; however, there was no immediate reaction from Maslach last night.

Neither the Nature Foundation nor the said businesses have mentioned which departments or persons they have addressed the complaint to, only mentioning authorities. The Daily Herald