Aug. 15, 2003 – Speaking before a Senate Finance Committee budget hearing early this month, Alberto Bruno-Vega, Water and Power Authority executive director, requested capital project funding for St. John.
The answer to Bruno-Vega's plea may come in legislation Sen. Celestino A. White Sr. is drafting to include the funding under the capital projects approved under Act 6587, the $235 million bond issue the Senate authorized in July.
Bruno-Vega said St. John's water demand increased a dramatic 183 percent from 1991 to 2002. At an April board meeting, he said that in 1991, when the authority installed the Israeli Desalination Unit 7, the St. John demand was 31.5 million gallons per year. By last year, he said, it had risen to 57.8 million gallons.
Over time WAPA has considered various solutions to St. John's chronic water shortage, including rehabilitation of well fields, barging, and building another St. John water plant. But Bruno-Vega said extending water lines to St. Thomas's East End and then laying a submarine pipe was the most viable solution. (See "WAPA to meet St. John water usage increase".)
White wrote to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull this week about his pending legislation. "A project of such vital importance would generate growth and development, broaden the tax base by attracting new businesses and homeowners, as well as improve the quality of life for many outlying areas," he said in asking the governor's comment and approval.
Bruno-Vega said the project would both provide a reliable water supply to St. John and utilize the excess water production capacity on St. Thomas. He said a financial analysis utilizing the present net value, profitability index and discounted pay-back period criteria indicated this is the best plan. The eastward extension on St. Thomas is to be carried out in three phases: from Foster Plaza to Emerald Hills, from Emerald Hills to Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort, and from Sugar Bay to Red Hook.
According to White, the overall project to provide potable water to Estate Tutu, The Valley, Anna's Retreat, Bovoni, Nadir and Red Hook will cost $6.5 million.
Turnbull has been off-island this week. White didn't indicate when he will introduce the legislation.
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