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HomeNewsArchivesFINAL DEADLINES SET FOR STX SEWAGE SYSTEM REPAIR

FINAL DEADLINES SET FOR STX SEWAGE SYSTEM REPAIR

A federal judge last week issued the Department of Public Works a final deadline to bring its St. Croix wastewater system into compliance – or else.
On May 30 District Court Judge Thomas Moore made final an April 28 draft order that directed the V.I. and federal governments to respond to numerous proposed deadlines concerning the Big Island’s problem-plagued sewage system. Essentially, the two parties agreed that Public Works has until the end of June to bring the system into compliance or local officials could face contempt of court hearings.
In his May 30 order, Moore said that past government excuses such as a lack of funding will not be accepted as reasons for missing deadlines "absent extraordinary circumstances."
"Failure by the government to comply with these deadlines, which the government has agreed to through its response, will result in contempt hearings . . . with the possible penalty ranging from fines to incarceration for the appropriate officials, including members of the Public Finance Authority and the Department of Finance, whose actions or lack of action are found to have impeded the progress of these crucial repairs," wrote Moore.
Public Works must have two aspects of its wastewater treatment plant fully operational by June 9 and another by June 23.
Meanwhile, the Figtree Pump Station, which was spilling more than 1.5 million gallons of raw sewage into the Caribbean Sea up to May 20, must be in full operation by June 30. The Figtree station discharges were to have been stopped on May 8, but problems with obtaining replacement parts caused Public Works to miss that tentative deadline.
Also by June 30 the LBJ Pump Station must have a number of fixes made, including all three of its pumps in operation.
Many of the problems with territory’s wastewater system date back to 1984, when a consent decree was entered into by the federal and local governments. In 1996 problems were again addressed in an amendment to the consent decree. But because of the ongoing illegal discharges on St. Croix, Moore issued yet another order in February setting specific dates for Public Works to make repairs.
For the most part, those dates were missed and continued problems at the Figtree Pump Station just east of the HOVENSA refinery caused millions of gallons of raw sewage a day to be discharged into the sea.
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. didn’t immediately return calls Tuesday afternoon.
Additionally, Moore called for 24-hour monitoring of the pump stations using remote telemetry systems that are already in place but not always functional. Repairs to the telemetry system must be completed by June 30.
Citing his February order, Moore again called on Public Works to notify the court of any additional bypasses anywhere in the territory, not just St. Croix.
"To the extent that this has not been done since Feb. 12, the government shall bring its bypass notices current for St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island with its June 8 weekly report, and keep those notices current thereafter," wrote Moore.

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A federal judge last week issued the Department of Public Works a final deadline to bring its St. Croix wastewater system into compliance – or else.
On May 30 District Court Judge Thomas Moore made final an April 28 draft order that directed the V.I. and federal governments to respond to numerous proposed deadlines concerning the Big Island’s problem-plagued sewage system. Essentially, the two parties agreed that Public Works has until the end of June to bring the system into compliance or local officials could face contempt of court hearings.
In his May 30 order, Moore said that past government excuses such as a lack of funding will not be accepted as reasons for missing deadlines "absent extraordinary circumstances."
"Failure by the government to comply with these deadlines, which the government has agreed to through its response, will result in contempt hearings . . . with the possible penalty ranging from fines to incarceration for the appropriate officials, including members of the Public Finance Authority and the Department of Finance, whose actions or lack of action are found to have impeded the progress of these crucial repairs," wrote Moore.
Public Works must have two aspects of its wastewater treatment plant fully operational by June 9 and another by June 23.
Meanwhile, the Figtree Pump Station, which was spilling more than 1.5 million gallons of raw sewage into the Caribbean Sea up to May 20, must be in full operation by June 30. The Figtree station discharges were to have been stopped on May 8, but problems with obtaining replacement parts caused Public Works to miss that tentative deadline.
Also by June 30 the LBJ Pump Station must have a number of fixes made, including all three of its pumps in operation.
Many of the problems with territory’s wastewater system date back to 1984, when a consent decree was entered into by the federal and local governments. In 1996 problems were again addressed in an amendment to the consent decree. But because of the ongoing illegal discharges on St. Croix, Moore issued yet another order in February setting specific dates for Public Works to make repairs.
For the most part, those dates were missed and continued problems at the Figtree Pump Station just east of the HOVENSA refinery caused millions of gallons of raw sewage a day to be discharged into the sea.
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. didn’t immediately return calls Tuesday afternoon.
Additionally, Moore called for 24-hour monitoring of the pump stations using remote telemetry systems that are already in place but not always functional. Repairs to the telemetry system must be completed by June 30.
Citing his February order, Moore again called on Public Works to notify the court of any additional bypasses anywhere in the territory, not just St. Croix.
"To the extent that this has not been done since Feb. 12, the government shall bring its bypass notices current for St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island with its June 8 weekly report, and keep those notices current thereafter," wrote Moore.