Minister Mejía of the Dominican Republic visits Witteveen+Bos

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On Tuesday 16 May 2017, Miguel Mejía, Minister of Regional Integration of the Dominican Republic, visited the Witteveen+Bos office in Rotterdam. The authorities in the Dominican Republic are interested in the Dutch water sector and as part of a three-day exploratory mission, they want to visit private-sector companies and government agencies in the Netherlands to gain knowledge about water safety, drinking water production and wastewater treatment. Minister Mejía was welcomed by Witteveen+Bos Director Stephan van der Biezen. Various experts from Witteveen+Bos presented solutions to the most important water management issues, including solutions based on sustainable design principles.

Sea levels are rising due to climate change, and this is especially affecting islands in the Caribbean. Maarten Jansen of Witteveen+Bos: ‘Most islands in the Caribbean have beautiful beaches, which are popular with tourists. Tourism accounts with 5 million visits every year for more than 17 % of the GDP of the Dominican Republic. Rising sea levels are resulting in increased wave attack and gradual disappearance of beaches. When we were in the Dominican Republic last year, we saw heavy damage by storms in many places. That damage can be avoided by protecting and restoring the coral reefs and thus enhancing the protection of the beaches.’

Due to the growth of tourism, wastewater has also become a problem. Many hotels and houses are not connected to the sewer system and discharge sewage into septic tanks or directly into the ground. The government wants to combat this problem by constructing sewer systems, but this is quite difficult. Witteveen+Bos has gained extensive experience in sewage and water purification projects in Latin America. Arjen van Nieuwenhuijzen: ‘Water purification is essential in preventing pollution and recycling water for sustainable use. You can then use the purified water for agriculture.‘ The southwestern region of the Dominican Republic is affected by water scarcity. Because there are no natural rivers, there is a shortage of good-quality drinking water. Desalination of seawater is therefore of great importance. Witteveen+Bos has proposed a cheap and efficient desalination method. Minister Mejía was enthusiastic about the possible solutions suggested by Witteveen+Bos for the Dominican Republic.