Orient Bay Park: who’s responsible for the work on the drinking water network?

It seems that it’s not an easy question to answer. The Saint-Martin Administrative Court examined the case.

A coincidence of timing… while the Water days (Journées de l’eau à Saint-Martin), organized by the Collectivité and the EEASM (the water and sanitation establishment) were being held in Saint-Martin last Friday, the homeowners’ association (ASL) "The Orient Bay Residences", the Collectivité and the Générale des Eaux (GdE) were in a dispute at the administrative court about a water issue. Precisely on the bad condition of the subdivision’s drinking water network.

They were all passing the buck to one another about who’s responsible for repairing the network. On the one hand, the GdE and the Collectivité consider that it’s not their responsibility; on the other, the ASL says it isn’t theirs either. In the meantime, many leaks on the network have been observed which can have a serious impact on the flow and water resource on the French side. The Collectivité therefore notified the ASL to make the repairs in June 2015. However, the association refused to comply. It therefore referred the matter to the Administrative Court in order to have this notice cancelled.

There’s no doubt about who owns the network: it belongs to the co-owners. This question is not a problem. Opinions differ on the maintenance of the pipes since interpretations of the condominium rules and the Saint-Martin water distribution rules are contradictory. The arguments are technical and it’s a matter of determining who will pay for the maintenance of the pipes between the main meter, the private meters and public network.

In his conclusions, the public rapporteur considered that the work which needs to be done on this part of the network was of "public interest". And therefore it’s normally up to the Collectivité to do it. He based his conclusions on several court rulings in the mainland to that effect.

In turn, the lawyer of the Collectivité delivered in his statement of case other examples of cases between the Collectivité and a homeowners’ association in which the general and/or public interest had not been recognized.

The Administrative Court will therefore have to decide. The judgment has been adjourned until June 24.

It should be noted that in June 2013, the Générale des Eaux had stopped the distribution of drinking water to its customers located on rue des Amers in Orient Bay. Following a court ruling, it had to re-establish the water and perform emergency work because the network was in a very bad condition. At the time, the losses came to 30 cubic meters per hour on rue des Amers.


Estelle Gasnet