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HomeNewsArchivesSEWAGE WOES FLOW AS MILLIONS GO UNSPENT BY DPW

SEWAGE WOES FLOW AS MILLIONS GO UNSPENT BY DPW

Shoddy administration of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant money by the Department of Public Works over the last 15 years has left tens of millions of dollars unspent and the cost of at least one major project to triple, according to a federal audit.
A recently released U.S. Interior Department audit of Public Works’ handling of EPA grants from 1984 through September 1999 concluded that Public Works had not used nearly $17 million in grant funds available for the construction of two wastewater-treatment plants and $120,000 available for a used-oil management program, and had not requested reimbursement for administrative costs totaling $63,819.
During the 15 years, EPA gave Public Works 10 grants totaling about $27.6 million to build and rehabilitate wastewater-treatment plants, pump stations and sewer lines; to buy and install emergency generators at pump stations; and to implement used oil management, solid waste management and pollution prevention programs. However, the audit found that the EPA had provided only $10.6 million for the 10 grants, leaving available an unspent balance of about $17 million.
According to the audit, the EPA grants were not administered effectively because Public Works did not have a director to manage grant funding, nor did it have a staff "knowledgeable of the specific purposes of the grants, procedures to document the time charged to the grants, and sufficient coordination . . . to timely complete financial status reports and requests for reimbursement."
In at least one case, the construction of the Mangrove Lagoon Wastewater treatment plant on St. Thomas mandated by a federal decree, the mismanagement and lack of action have tripled the cost of the project.
Between September 1984 and September 1999, the audit says, Public Works received a grant award and three amendments totaling $13.8 million, of which the local government had to pony up $200,000, to design and build the wastewater treatment plant at Mangrove Lagoon.
While EPA has approved the design of the plant, construction has not started. Because of the delays by Public Works to begin work, the Interior audit estimated that costs have increased from the initial grant amount of $8.9 million in September 1984 to about $30 million as of Sept. 30, 1999.
To cover the balance left after EPA’s nearly $14 million in grants, the V.I. government, through the Public Finance Authority, was forced to issue $16 million in bonds in May 1998, the audit said.
The audit made 12 recommendations to Gov. Charles Turnbull to address the shortfalls in Public Works’ management of federal grants. The audit said that based on responses from the governor, Interior considers two recommendations implemented, four resolved but not implemented, and six recommendations unresolved.
Most of the unresolved matters surround Public Works providing a plan that includes the target date and the title of the official responsible for making sure that grant funds are managed correctly and that projects are carried out.

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Shoddy administration of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant money by the Department of Public Works over the last 15 years has left tens of millions of dollars unspent and the cost of at least one major project to triple, according to a federal audit.
A recently released U.S. Interior Department audit of Public Works’ handling of EPA grants from 1984 through September 1999 concluded that Public Works had not used nearly $17 million in grant funds available for the construction of two wastewater-treatment plants and $120,000 available for a used-oil management program, and had not requested reimbursement for administrative costs totaling $63,819.
During the 15 years, EPA gave Public Works 10 grants totaling about $27.6 million to build and rehabilitate wastewater-treatment plants, pump stations and sewer lines; to buy and install emergency generators at pump stations; and to implement used oil management, solid waste management and pollution prevention programs. However, the audit found that the EPA had provided only $10.6 million for the 10 grants, leaving available an unspent balance of about $17 million.
According to the audit, the EPA grants were not administered effectively because Public Works did not have a director to manage grant funding, nor did it have a staff "knowledgeable of the specific purposes of the grants, procedures to document the time charged to the grants, and sufficient coordination . . . to timely complete financial status reports and requests for reimbursement."
In at least one case, the construction of the Mangrove Lagoon Wastewater treatment plant on St. Thomas mandated by a federal decree, the mismanagement and lack of action have tripled the cost of the project.
Between September 1984 and September 1999, the audit says, Public Works received a grant award and three amendments totaling $13.8 million, of which the local government had to pony up $200,000, to design and build the wastewater treatment plant at Mangrove Lagoon.
While EPA has approved the design of the plant, construction has not started. Because of the delays by Public Works to begin work, the Interior audit estimated that costs have increased from the initial grant amount of $8.9 million in September 1984 to about $30 million as of Sept. 30, 1999.
To cover the balance left after EPA’s nearly $14 million in grants, the V.I. government, through the Public Finance Authority, was forced to issue $16 million in bonds in May 1998, the audit said.
The audit made 12 recommendations to Gov. Charles Turnbull to address the shortfalls in Public Works’ management of federal grants. The audit said that based on responses from the governor, Interior considers two recommendations implemented, four resolved but not implemented, and six recommendations unresolved.
Most of the unresolved matters surround Public Works providing a plan that includes the target date and the title of the official responsible for making sure that grant funds are managed correctly and that projects are carried out.