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Legislature Corner: More Needs to Be Done About Lead and Copper in St. Croix’s Potable Water

Senator Carla J. Joseph (Submitted photo)

Senator Carla Joseph issues the following statement on the discovery of lead and copper in potable water on St. Croix:

“The recent finding of lead and copper in the potable water system by the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) water testing in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is quite concerning and troubling. I commend the governor for declaring the State of Emergency surrounding the brown potable water issue on St. Croix.

“The EPA discovery of elevated levels of lead and copper in 35 out of the 66 samples of water collected on the west end of St. Croix warrants immediate public health surveillance of residents in Diamond, Castle Burke Community, Colquhoun and Mon Bijou.

“Exposure to lead and copper in drinking water can cause a range of health problems, including stomach distress, brain damage, liver or kidney damage, and reproductive issues. The most vulnerable constituents at risk are our children. Reports indicate that even low levels of lead can impair the brain development of fetuses, infants and young children, and in adults has been linked to high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and reduced fertility.

“WAPA’s response to the situation is not sufficient. It is good that the Bryan Roach Administration has activated an emergency response by the Department of Health to conduct testing of residents in the area; however, this requirement should be extended to all residents of St. Croix as well as individuals who may have visited the islands and stayed in the affected areas to determine any impacts on their health.

“The story of Flint, Michigan, is the most recent precedence that called on the local government and the federal government to act. This situation is a potential health crisis and possibly legal ramifications, and the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Department of Health and the U.S. EPA need to do more for the residents of St. Croix.”

Senator Carla Joseph, St. Croix

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