Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has given the green light for Public Works, its commissioner and associated government departments to buy whatever is needed to repair the territory's sewer system without going through the competitive bidding process.
A release from Government House said the governor had "declared a state of emergency to enable" DPW to "obtain supplies, materials, equipment and contractual services necessary for the repair of the public sewer system in the open market, without advertising for public competitive bidding requirements."
"Our aging sewer system, which teeters on the brink of collapse and places all residents and our environment in jeopardy, must be addressed immediately," Turnbull said.
Last week a sewage-line break in Frederiksted caused classes to be cancelled at St. Patrick's School and left a stench of raw sewage in the air as an estimated 100,000 gallons of raw sewage a day was being pumped into the sea.
As Public Works, Planning and Natural Resources and a contractor worked Wednesday and Thursday to repair the break and eliminate the odor, two cruise ships called on the island.
Federal officials have expressed concern for years about the territory's broken-down and poorly maintained sewage-treatment system along with its landfills and other environmentally sensitive facilities.
Turnbull said he had directed the commissioners of Public Works, Property and Procurement, Health, Finance and Justice, as well as the heads of other agencies, to cooperate in instituting the emergency procedures at Public Works.
The release did not make clear the scope of his "state of emergency" declaration at Public Works, including whether it encompasses areas other than the sewer system.