I was amused and appalled at the closing of Brewers Bay by the Planning and Natural Resources Department because of the malfunctioning of the airport sewage treatment plant. It shows a complete lack of knowledge of the location of the sewage outfall and the mechanics of the system.
The outfall is located approximately 1,500 feet southwest of the treatment plant. It discharges treated or untreated sewage at a depth of 75 feet with a diffuser of 700 to 1. The equatorial current in the vicinity moves east to west at 6 to 7 miles per hour. That means that 120,000 gallons of sewage per hour is discharged into a body of water 75 feet deep by 40 miles (the distance to St. Croix) long, moving at the rate of 6 to 7 mph.
Studies conducted years ago by the Division of Natural Resources of what was then the Department of Conservation found no appreciable increase in fecal coliform in the plume of the discharge from the outfall. These studies led me, as the supervisor of the design and construction of the sewerage system, to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of secondary treatment for the system. This application was recently disapproved by the EPA for lack of followup by the V.I. government after 15 to 16 years.
It is impossible for the relatively small volume of sewage discharged by the airport plant to pollute either Brewers Bay or Lindbergh Bay, and the nearest land mass to the west is Culebra.
The Virgin Islands already is third nationally in the closure of beaches as a result of sewage discharges. It is senseless to add to the image by faulty opinions.
The health and well being of the people of the Virgin Islands depend on water, electricity, and sewerage, in that order. All three of those depend on motors, pumps and electrical switches which must be maintained, repaired and periodically replaced.
St. Thomas and Marietta, Ga.
Editor's note: Pedrito A. Francois, a retired environmental engineer, served as the territory's assistant commissioner of Public Works in 1980-1984 and as director of natural resources in the Conservation Department in 1975-1980.
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