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HomeNewsArchivesAfter Decades of EPA Complaints, Water-Treatment Upgrades Finally Complete

After Decades of EPA Complaints, Water-Treatment Upgrades Finally Complete

June 27, 2007 — Major upgrades to the St. Croix and St. Thomas wastewater treatment plants are essentially complete, with St. Croix’s Anguilla plant online since March, reported Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall to the WMA board of directors Tuesday.
“We are processing effluent and getting good reviews from the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency),” Cornwall said. “In May, we had toxicity tests done at Anguilla and we passed with flying colors. The plant is online but in the acceptance phase, meaning tests are still being done.”
The St. Thomas Red Point wastewater treatment plant is complete as well, but not accepting effluent because of a force-main break. St. Thomas sewage is going to an alternate treatment site near Cyril E. King Airport.
“It broke,” Cornwall said. “We fixed it. Then another line broke.”
The second break resulted in some delays while the necessary parts were shipped to the territory, she said. Board member Llewellyn Reed asked if spare parts should be stored locally.
“That is the plan,” Cornwall said. “But we cannot afford to keep spares of everything on the island — especially very expensive parts we almost never need.”
The pipe for the St. Thomas repair is on the island, but they are waiting on some special fittings, she said. Final testing should be complete and both plants in full operation around the end of August or beginning of September.
Asked whether the plants would have the capacity to deal with future growth, Cornwall said they had plenty of capacity.
“Right now we have two million gallons a day going into the Anguilla plant,” she said. “The plant has a capacity of four million gallons a day. In the short run, the volume going in will actually be going down as we fix manholes and rainwater infiltration is stopped.”
Five million dollars has been allocated and a request for proposals (RFP) put out for the manhole work, Cornwall said.
The completion of these water-treatment upgrades marks a major milestone for WMA and the territory. The old plants have been under an EPA consent decree to improve since 1984, with EPA complaints about the plants going back considerably further. Now the territory stands on the cusp of moving beyond that legacy. The upgraded plants are designed to have a lifetime of at least 20 years, Cornwall said.
EPA consent decrees remain that mandate the closure of the Anguilla landfill. That work is still in a relatively preliminary phase.
In other business, the board granted Cornwall the authority to enter into an annual contract for employee medical checkups with Frederiksted Health Care — the Ingeborg Nesbitt Health Clinic. The contract is for an amount not to exceed $57,975.
The checkups are offered in addition to regular employee health benefits, said Health Officer Lorina Dyer.
“Because of the work they do, many of our employees are at risk of exposure to all manner of hazards,” she said. “This helps keep them safe and assists us in tracking and monitoring both exposure and health conditions.”
The checkups are a part of WMA’s collective-bargaining agreement with the Seafarers International Union, Dyer said. On St. Thomas, the checkups will be done at Roy L. Schneider Hospital and on St. John at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center. Those will be paid for through separate contracts and are not included in the $57,975 figure.
An increased minimum fine of $1000 for littering is in effect on St. Thomas but has been delayed on St. Croix, Dyer reported. She said they were waiting for new tickets to be printed through the Superior Court.
“On St. Thomas, they let us scratch through the old figure of $100,” Cornwall said. “But on St. Croix, they’ve been tossing them out if they were scratched out and changed. … We’d print our own, but we’ve been told we may not.”
The authority has waited for new tickets since last fall, Dyer said.
Residents can report violators by calling the enforcement office at (340) 712-4956 during normal business hours, or by calling the 24-hour WMA hotline at (340) 713-1962.
Newly confirmed Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls was sworn in as a member of the WMA board at Tuesday’s meeting. His position gives him a seat on the board.
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