Water quality monitoring Bonaire. Identification of indicators, methods and locations


On the island Bonaire, eutrophication is a point of serious concern, affecting the coral reefs in the marine park. Eutrophication can cause altered balance of the reef ecosystem because algae shall outcompete corals, eventually leading to a disturbed composition of the reef.
The reef of Bonaire faces nutrient input by various sources, of which enriched groundwater outflow from land to the reef is considered to be a substantial source. Groundwater is enriched with nutrients due to the e.g. leaking septic tanks.

In order to reduce the input of nutrients on the reef via sewage water, a water treatment plant is being built on Bonaire. The treatment of sewage water will be extended in 2012 with a sewage system covering the so called sensitive zone, the urbanised area from Hato to Punt Vierkant. Based on the dimensions of the treatment plant and estimated connections to the plant, it can be assumed that a total of 17520- 35040 kg of Nitrogen a year will be removed from the sensitive zone, and will not leach out to the sea at the western coast of Bonaire.

At the moment limited information is available about the total amount of nutrients in the marine environment. Therefore, Rijkswaterstaat Waterdienst asked IMARES to conduct a monitoring study.The goal of this coastal monitoring study was to collect baseline water quality data to be able to study the effectiveness of the water treatment facility in coming years. No estimates are known of the contribution of other sources to the total nitrogen load.

The study consisted of two phases and resulted in two reports:

  1. recommendations for baseline monitoring in 2011,
  2. monitoring, data evaluation, and recommendations

The aim of this first report was to define recommendations for the baseline monitoring the, expected positive, impact of the new sewage treatment system on the marine environment of Bonaire, with special emphasis on baseline monitoring. For this an evaluation was made of:

  • Parameters/indicators to analyse, including argumentation, critical conditions
  • Methods for sampling and critical conditions, including costs
  • Potential sampling locations


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