V.I. Water and Power Authority Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr., denied Friday that the recent outbreak of impetigo is related to the public water system.
“For the record we have nothing to do with it, it has nothing to do with the water,” Hodge said during a board meeting Friday.
While acknowledging reports of “discoloration,” Hodge affirmed that daily tests of the water from multiple locations have shown that there are no contaminants in the water running through the lines.
“There’s no discoloration of what’s coming out of the units when it’s produced,” he clarified. “It’s all the rust in the lines.”
Hodge counted the misinformation as one of the hurdles that WAPA continues to face and expressed hope that a soon-to-be-released request for proposals would result in a swift replacement of the aging lines.
The life expectancy of the ductile iron pipes that distribute the territory’s water is about 30 years. Many of the pipelines that residents rely on, however, have been in use for over 80 years. Wear on WAPA’s key infrastructure has also been exacerbated by past water control practices, specifically the addition of phosphate which was common practice in previous years.
“When you look at some of the sections, it’s amazing to see how the lines have deteriorated,” Hodge said.
Accepting responsibility for the current state of the water system, Hodge admitted that those issues are daunting.
“It has been, in my career, the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said.
Despite the current line difficulties, Hodge was optimistic about future work on the underground infrastructure and current WAPA projects. Taking a moment to acknowledge the arrival of the territory’s first propane shipment, Hodge expressed satisfaction with progress of the territory’s propane storage and delivery facilities. Three items related to the completion of those facilities were passed during the meeting.
Prior to the Executive Director’s Report, the board approved:
– A change order in the amount of $143,920 to an existing contract with IV-AGA Texas, LLC for system upgrades to the St. Thomas Harley Plant and St. Croix Richmond Plant. The project was divided into two phases, with an emphasis on the first phase of the plan. As a result, Phase 2 was delayed and the contract extended to October 2016. The board also approved an extension of the contract.
– Funding to maintain professional and technical assistance provided by Arcadis Inc. for the Randolph Harley and Estate Richmond power plants. The Randolph Harley Plant received $500,000 while the Estate Richmond Plant was approved for the $200,000 for Arcadis’ continued services.
– A time extension for the contractor ESI Inc. n regards to the fire protection system upgrade introducing gas into power plant. The extension came at no additional cost to WAPA.
– An increase to an existing contract with Crowley Logistics, LLC in regards to shipping costs of a HRSG21 boiler piece. The final weight of the equipment increased by approximately 19,000 pounds, resulting in a cost difference of $1,750 for ocean freight from Houston, Texas to St. Thomas.
– The renewal of the lease for the business office at Marketplace in Cruz Bay, St. John. The new agreement would include a five-year option under present terms for a cost of $4,654.83 per month.
– Funding to Electric Supply of Tamp, Florida for the purchase of material to replace pole mounted transformers with pad mounted transformers at four St. Croix schools as part of an ongoing underground shelter project. The total cost, $210,035, is to be shared between FEMA and WAPA, with WAPA responsible for the remaining 25 percent.
– Amendments to contract guidelines to better facilitate the hiring of Virgin Islands residents and locals. The board also authorized the executive director to negotiate with unions the details of a one-year health insurance policy effective Jan. 1, 2016.
– An update to the WAPA strategic plan.