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HomeNewsArchivesWAPA: SEN. WHITE’S LEGISLATION ‘NOT NEEDED’

WAPA: SEN. WHITE’S LEGISLATION ‘NOT NEEDED’

May 11, 2001 — A bill sponsored by Sens. Celestino White and Norma Samuel met an unusual end Thursday when the senators discovered it had no meaning or was, at best, unnecessary and asked that it be removed from the agenda.
The senators had written a measure compelling the V. I. Water and Power Authority to negotiate with east-end hotels for them to purchase potable water and to secure financial assistance in planning, engineering and construction of potable water lines.
"The legislation is not necessary," White said, "and we probably don't have the authority to do that anyway."
He said he would revise the bill as a resolution, an act agreed to by Cathy Smith, WAPA’s general counsel. Smith said in a prepared statement, which White agreed she need not read aloud, that the legislation "is unnecessary, as WAPA was previously granted this authority by the Legislature when it transferred the potable water system to WAPA in 1988."
She said the utility has been in negotiations for some time with hotels on St. Thomas and St. Croix regarding electric, and where possible, potable water service.
She said the hotels had been "impressed with WAPA's improvements over the years." The Ritz-Carlton and Wyndham Sugar Bay Hotels are scheduled to be energized later this year, she said.
Smith suggested the lawmakers devote their energies to collecting the vast sum of money the V.I. government owes the authority.
"WAPA faces serious revenue shortages due to the goverment's failure to pay not only past due, but current, utility bills," she said.
Smith, who was appearing on behalf of Joseph Thomas, WAPA's new executive director, said the government owes about $13.7 million for water alone — $6.4 for the executive branch, and $7.3 for the independent agencies.
"WAPA," she concluded, "would appreciate your assistance in collection of these monies."

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