March 2, 2004 — In a press conference Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards delivered good news concerning the sewage problem in the territory, particularly St. Croix, and offered a ray of hope for the ailing Crucian economy.
As of Tuesday, Richards said, no raw sewage was on St. Croix's streets. The leakage of raw sewage into the streets and individuals' yards has long been a problem for St. Croix residents.
Richards said the revamping of the sewage system is "critical" to the V.I. economy and that he had asked the Department of Public Works to come up with an action plan for the failing sewage system.
"The immediate resolution of the sewage problem in the territory and particularly St. Croix is critical to the health and well-being of our people," Richards said.
Tuesday at the conference, Public Works presented its plan to the public.
DPW Commissioner Wayne Callwood said over the past 20 years the waste-water lines of the territory have deteriorated to the point that the V.I. government is under a strict consent order with the Environmental Protection Agency to come into compliance.
Callwood said his department has been working towards full compliance.
"What has to be done is a complete overhaul of the collection system," Sonya Nelthropp, senior manager for the federal compliance program, said. Nelthropp explained that the collection system receives the sewage from homes and businesses and delivers it to the Anguilla Treatment Plant.
A complete upgrade of the pump stations are also needed, Nelthropp said, adding that it would take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to get "completely up to speed."
Nelthropp said the two major problems currently being faced are grease blockages in the lines and roots growing into the lines, which cause leakages once removed.
According to Nelthropp, work has already begun on the installation of new sewer lines.
"It's a massive project," Nelthropp said. She added that the establishment of the Waste Management Authority would help because more resources would be focused on that specific issue.
"The reality is that this is a major project, and it's going to require the sensitivity of the public," Richards said.
Richards also announced Monday that Crucians can look forward to Danish visitors on the island starting April 2.
In October of last year, Richards, in the position of Acting Governor, signed an agreement to market charter flights from Denmark to St. Croix and to promote tours of the island.
The Department of Tourism agreed to give the Danish West Indies Travel Agency $400,000 in four installments to launch an ad campaign featuring St. Croix that aired on Danish National Television.
Richards said as of Monday, the agency sold 1,530 tickets on the charter flight. Approximately 99.9 percent of the seats sold on the flights include 14-night hotel bookings, Richards said.
"The V.I. Government is already seeing a return on its investment," Richards said. "This is an exciting time for St. Croix."
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