Feb. 16, 2005 -Sonya Nelthropp, director of the V.I. Waste Management Authority, estimates that repairing the 120-miles of sewage collection lines in the territory will cost $200 million over a period of 10 to 20 years.
She said Wednesday, "This is what happens when you ignore a system for 40 years."
She said the authority is seeking grant money from where ever it can and she was "very pleased" with the announcement on Monday that the Department of the Interiors Office of Insular Affairs was granting the V.I. government $4,168,000 for wastewater infrastructure projects.
According to a press release from the Interior Department, "Funds under this program are now allocated among the territories on a competitive basis, under a scoring system that rewards good fiscal management, good project planning and good project management."
Keith Parsky, policy and public affairs specialist for Interior, said Wednesday about V.I. government accounting practices, "They had a long way to go, but they keep improving every day."
Nelthropp said that this money would not be used for wastewater treatment plants to be built on St. Thomas and St. Croix. (See "Bonds to Fund Wastewater and Sewage Treatment Improvements").
She said previous grants in this program had been earmarked for the sewage plants, but the authority is now concentrating on getting money for the collection system.
Parsky gave the following list of grants to the Virgin Islands from this program:
– 2004 $5,000,000 for federally mandated wastewater infrastructure, St.Thomas/ St. Croix
– 2003 $993,000 Design and start up costs to build treatment plants
– 2000 $1,280,000 LBJ wastewater pump station; $77,000 wastewater power Boyd pump station; $582,000 Evaluation of sewage system.
Nelthropp was asked why, if $1.2 million was granted for the LBJ Wastewater pump station five years ago, the station still experienced so many problems and sewage has to be pumped into the ocean over Long Reef.
She said the pump station has undergone a great deal of work, some of it just recently completed, and is undergoing more. She said a third pump is being brought on line at the station.
However, she cautioned that all problems wouldn't disappear even when all the work at the station is completed. She said the collection system still has many leaks and in a major storm the water leaking into the system could still overcome the station's capacity.
In the press release from Interior, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior David B. Cohen said, "Completion of these projects will improve public health protection while helping to bring the territory into compliance with Federal law."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.