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Coral Bay Meeting Will Address Watershed Protection

Aug. 1, 2007 — Efforts to protect St. John’s Coral Bay watershed will be the focus of a Coral Bay Community Council meeting to be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the John's Folly Learning Institute.
The main topic is a proposed watershed-management plan that focuses on storm-water runoff, sedimentation, erosion and other land-based pollutants that threaten coral-reef habitats.
Coral Bay-area residents consistently identify storm-water runoff and protection of the bay as their top concerns, said Council President Sharon Coldren.
"At the meeting, they will have an opportunity to give their comments and thoughts on what is needed and how it should be done," she said.
At the meeting, council members and guests will hear what staff from the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) learned during their visit to the area July 31 through Aug. 2. During their visit, they will review roads and other sources of storm-water runoff and pollution into the bay.
The team will visit a variety of sites around the area to give them a full picture of the watershed, Coldren said.
CWP and NOAA staffs, in conjunction with the Planning and Natural Resources Department, are evaluating Coral Bay in hopes of implementing a watershed-management plan. It is part of a pilot plan that also involves the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Coral Bay council.
Coral Bay was selected because the site offers an excellent opportunity for multiple federal and local agencies to come together to protect vulnerable coral-reef resources, officials say.
"We anticipate real things will happen,” Coldren said. “It will not just be a paper plan.”
The goals of the Coral Bay watershed pilot project are to provide training to local technical and management staff on field-assessment techniques and protocols and the management-planning process. With that training, the staff will be able to produce an effective watershed-management plan for Coral Bay that is ready for implementation. They will also be able to define a planning-and-assessment procedure that can be applied by local staff in other priority watersheds.
The project is funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Division and is part of a multi-year training-and-management program in all U.S. territories. It is aimed at addressing land-based sources of pollution that threaten coral-reef ecosystems.
CWP, an internationally known non-profit consulting group based in Maryland, has a contract for the study.
For more information, contact Planning's Jean-Pierre Oriol at 774-3320, or Coldren at 513-4298 or 776-2099.
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