Water Quality Testing July 2012 -St. Maarten Nature Foundation
The Nature Foundation carried out water quality tests on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of July 2012 at seven sites surrounding St. Maarten. These tests, which are conducted bi- annually, are carried out in order to determine the levels of pollutants and other factors affecting wetlands and beaches on St. Maarten. Tests were carried out in order to determine Nitrates (which shows that the water is polluted), Phosphates (which shows the presence of Sewage), Nitrogen, Dissolved Oxygen, and the acidity of the water. Tests were carried out on seven sites; Cole Bay Lagoon, Simpson Bay Lagoon, Mullet Pond, Kim Sha Beach, Great Bay Beach, Belair Pond, Fresh Pond, and the Great Salt Pond. The sites of Great Bay Beach and Kim Sha Beach were particularly chosen to test the swimming quality of the beaches.
It was determined that the sites Cole Bay Lagoon, Kim-Sha Beach, Mullet Pond, and Great Bay had medium levels of both phosphates and nitrates in samples tested. Elevated levels of nitrates and phosphates show that there is a presence of various types of pollutants and sewage which can cause toxic algal blooms and mortality events (large scale dying of fish, turtle and crabs) in wetlands and coastal areas. The highest level was recorded in the Great Salt Pond and indicates the presence numerous pollutants and sewage in the tested water. This may cause fish die offs and algal blooms. Taking this into consideration levels will continuously be monitored by the Nature Foundation.
It was further established that the sites Cole Bay Lagoon, Kim-Sha Beach, Mullet Pond, and Great Bay had low levels of Nitrogen in samples tested. Elevated levels of Nitrogen, caused by pollutants, can cause massive fish die-offs in wetlands and coastal areas. The highest level was recorded in the Great Salt Pond at .6 ppm, which is a relatively high number and indicates the presence of elevated nitrogen levels which can pose a threat to aquatic organisms and which may cause fish die-offs between now and the end of the year. The Nature Foundation will continuously monitor Nitrogen Levels at this site in order to give an approximation when fish die offs may be expected.
Almost all levels of oxygen recorded were at sufficient levels to maintain healthy life. The lowest level was recorded in the Great Salt Pond. This site should be closely monitored for a further drop in oxygen levels which may result in fish kills and breeding of airborne insects (i.e. Midges). It is interesting to note that previously recorded levels in April 2011 of Oxygen in the Fresh Pond indicated a low level present. Current levels have been recorded at healthy levels, which is a significant improvement. This is probably related to the installation of aeration pumps in the Fresh Pond by the Public Works (ROB) Department of the Ministry VROMI.
Despite the fact that many sites showed Low to Medium readings, the Nature Foundation will follow up on a monthly basis during the summer months to carefully monitor for changes in the respective levels. Similarly the levels recorded in the Great Salt Pond show that there exists the possibility of fish die-offs and increased midge activity between now and end of 2012.