83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023


April 3, 2003 – Expressing concern over adequate funding, the director of the Office of Management and Budget has declined to release $2.5 million for the construction of two utility projects on St. John. Meanwhile, the head of the Water and Power Authority says there may be alternative approaches that would eliminate the need for one of the projects.
The $2.5 million was set aside to build a WAPA water plant in Cruz Bay and a substation in Coral Bay several years ago. Senator-at-Large Almando "Rocky" Liburd wrote to OMB's director, Ira Mills, last month, asking that the money be released from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund so the work could get under way.
Mills said he turned down Liburd's request after talking to WAPA officials. He pointed out that the cost of building a new water plant was estimated back in 1991. The plant then was projected to cost $1.8 million and the purchase of land to build it on, an additional $200,000.
That being the case, "the level of appropriation will only address the water plant and not the substation in Coral Bay," Mills said in an April 1 letter to Liburd. Mills noted that the substation plan "has only been discussed," with "no concrete quotation or plans" presented.
Discussion of the new water plant comes at a time when WAPA's production capability on St. John has been outstripped by customer demand, according to its executive director, Alberto Bruno Vega. But he said on Thursday that it may be possible to supply more water without undertaking additional construction.
A presentation of alternatives is scheduled for the April 24 meeting of the WAPA governing board. The options are "still in the discussion phase," Bruno said.
He said that he, too, has written to the Office of Management and Budget, laying out a plan that would require the use of some set-aside funds.
As an alternative to building a new water plant, Bruno said, he would rather use the funds to lay an undersea pipeline from Red Hook on St. Thomas to St. John's Turner Bay as part of a larger plan to expand water service to the eastern end of St. Thomas.
Because Bruno sent his request for funds on Wednesday, he said, Mills probably hadn't seen it as of Thursday.

Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.