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FLOATING DESAL PLANT IN NEED OF FIXING EYED AS ST. JOHN WATER SOLUTION

The island of St. John faces a serious and ongoing shortage of potable water. Meantime, in the St. Thomas harbor sits a moveable floating desalination plant that is not in use but reportedly has the capacity to convert seawater into 300,000 gallons of fresh water daily.
Clearly, say Sen. Almando Liburd and Department of Public Works transportation and marine-services director Bingley Richardson, getting the desal plant into service and over to St. John should be a government priority to alleviate the water shortage until the island's own production capacity can be increased.
The conversion plant is the battleship-gray vessel anchored off Hassel Island that has the look of an alien paddle-wheeler. The V.I. government acquired it last year as a surplus donation from the U.S. Navy. Engineers placed its value at $4 million last year and said it cost $5 million to build, Richardson told the V.I. Independent.
The 5-year-old plant was in excellent condition when he went up to Virginia to check it out before it was towed to St. Thomas, Richardson says, but it suffered "superficial" damage due to rough seas on the passage down to the island. When it arrived here last May, is was half operational, he told the Independent.
According to Richardson, a onetime ferryboat captain, $200,000 worth of replacement parts came with the desal plant. All that is needed to get it operational, he told WVWI/Radio One, is repair of the "superficial damage" and training of personnel to operate it. An $80,000 proposal to provide the training is in hand, Richardson says, and he believes the plant could be up and running "within a week."
Liburd, in a Wednesday letter to Water and Power Authority executive director Raymond George, called on WAPA and the V.I. government to "join their resources together" to repair the floating plant and get it into operation producing water for to St. John.
Liburd cited the $80,000 figure for repairs in his letter. According to WAPA spokeswoman Patricia Blake Simmonds, former Public Works Commissioner Lindell Williams had told George the cost of getting the plant operational would be upwards of $400,000, the Independent reported.
Currently, eight trucking firms haul water by barge from St. Thomas to St. John, Simmonds says.

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The island of St. John faces a serious and ongoing shortage of potable water. Meantime, in the St. Thomas harbor sits a moveable floating desalination plant that is not in use but reportedly has the capacity to convert seawater into 300,000 gallons of fresh water daily.
Clearly, say Sen. Almando Liburd and Department of Public Works transportation and marine-services director Bingley Richardson, getting the desal plant into service and over to St. John should be a government priority to alleviate the water shortage until the island's own production capacity can be increased.
The conversion plant is the battleship-gray vessel anchored off Hassel Island that has the look of an alien paddle-wheeler. The V.I. government acquired it last year as a surplus donation from the U.S. Navy. Engineers placed its value at $4 million last year and said it cost $5 million to build, Richardson told the V.I. Independent.
The 5-year-old plant was in excellent condition when he went up to Virginia to check it out before it was towed to St. Thomas, Richardson says, but it suffered "superficial" damage due to rough seas on the passage down to the island. When it arrived here last May, is was half operational, he told the Independent.
According to Richardson, a onetime ferryboat captain, $200,000 worth of replacement parts came with the desal plant. All that is needed to get it operational, he told WVWI/Radio One, is repair of the "superficial damage" and training of personnel to operate it. An $80,000 proposal to provide the training is in hand, Richardson says, and he believes the plant could be up and running "within a week."
Liburd, in a Wednesday letter to Water and Power Authority executive director Raymond George, called on WAPA and the V.I. government to "join their resources together" to repair the floating plant and get it into operation producing water for to St. John.
Liburd cited the $80,000 figure for repairs in his letter. According to WAPA spokeswoman Patricia Blake Simmonds, former Public Works Commissioner Lindell Williams had told George the cost of getting the plant operational would be upwards of $400,000, the Independent reported.
Currently, eight trucking firms haul water by barge from St. Thomas to St. John, Simmonds says.