Aug. 21, 2002 – High on a hill overlooking the Bovoni landfill, local and federal government officials gathered Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the territory's newest wastewater treatment plant, described by Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood as "the best plant in the Caribbean region."
The Mangrove Lagoon plant's one-story processing container has a storage capacity of 400,000 gallons of sewage. Callwood says the plant can treat and convert up to 70,000 gallons a day.
Visitors mounting a series of steps from the operational portion of plant to its administrative office on Wednesday passed a series of sprinklers shooting out clear, odorless water that Callwood said was the end product of the wastewater treatment process.
"We can use the water to sprinkle and take care of our grounds," he said. "It comes directly from the plant, and we're going to use the same water on the Bovoni road to keep the dust down."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull told those gathered for the ribbon cutting that he hopes the opening of the plant will signal the start of an era when the V.I. government can shift from trying to solve problems through crisis management into one where problems are anticipated and projects are carried out according to plan.
"Turning this initial plan into a functioning reality has not been easy," Turnbull said. He cited "lack of funding, natural and manmade disasters, plan modifications, not the least, permitting issues" as factors that delayed its completion. "We even lost an individual … in this task," he said.
That individual was Harold Thompson Jr., the 38-year-old Public Works commissioner who died in office while in the midst of tackling the territory's failing wastewater processing system.
Other dignitaries on hand at the ceremony were Delegate Donna M. Christensen, members of the 24th Legislature and officials from Region 2 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Region 2 EPA administrator Jane M. Kenny said she was looking forward to inspecting the plant. She said EPA engineers have been involved in the project throughout the construction and system testing phases. The EPA provided $14 million in federal funds toward the project, she said.
Once the plant it is brought fully on line, it will serve the eastern portion of St. Thomas, except for Estate Nazareth, where wastewater is processed at the Vessup Bay plant. Its operation also allows the V.I. government to take one of the older facilities in the area out of service.
Some of the older treatment plants are not in compliance with federal standards, but the governor pledged to bring them up to standard "within the next five years."
The dedication ceremony was the first of two for the day for most of the officials. In the afternoon, the Cruz Bay treatment plant, which has been up and running for more than a year, also was formally dedicated.

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