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Wastewater Management Ready To Move

This is an official news release from the 26th Legislature published verbatim as received from the Office of Public Affairs, relative to recent Senate activity.
March 9, 2005 – The Committee on Economic Development, Planning and Environmental Protection held its fact-finding meeting regarding The Waste Management Authority (WMA) which is in its start-up stage of operation, in the Legislative Conference Room, Frederiksted on Tuesday.
According to the Committee Chairman, Senator Neville James, the nature of the meeting pertained to how the creation of WMA would impact the residents of the Territory. In addition, how the creation of the Authority was affecting the operation of the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Senator James said one of his major concerns was the status of upgrading the sewer system throughout the territory. "With various capital investors viewing the territory as an exotic fruit right for the picking," Sen. James added, "we must ensure that adequate infrastructure's plans and goals are addressed."
After asking fellow members of the committee to focus on questions that speaks to the planning and implementation of waste management in the territory, Sen. James said his committee has the potential to have a significant impact where developing our community is concerned in the short, mid and long term.
Sonya Nelthrop, WMA Interim Executive Director, provided answers to some of the concerns senators expressed to her. She said the issues presented will guide the direction of the Authority and it is these questions and
concerns that she hopes senators and the authority can address not only for today but in the future as well.
Winston Adams, Chairman of WMA told committee members of an evaluation completed concerning the management of waste in the territory. He said the objective of the survey was to determine the areas of deficiency with respect to territorial waste management practices.
Adams said it was found that systematically there were, a low priority for financing; inconsistent cooperation and coordination among various governmental department and divisions; a lack of comprehensive planning; nonexistent or inadequate standards; outmoded technology; and a failure to use existing authority more effectively.
Adams explained that the people of the Virgin Islands have suffered both health wise and economically from harmful effects of the improper management of our wastewater and solid waste system. He pointed to the fact that our fifty-year old solid waste and wastewater systems have been a persistent and well-documented problem.
According to Adams, in 1994 the first lawsuit and federal consent order was entered against the V.I. Government. Since that time, there have been in office, three governors; eleven legislatures; six Commissioners of DPW and six subsequent consents orders, "but the problem of waste management still persisted," he said.
Adams told committee members, " It was imperative that a comprehensive approach for management of the territory's solid waste and wastewater systems be implemented without further delay."
Wayne Callwood, Commissioner of Public Works said the development of the Waste Management Authority was the best thing for the territory. He described it as a milestone for waste management in the Virgin Islands. He said three divisions will be transferred over to the Authority: Equipment Maintenance, Utilities and Solid Waste. He added that once the WMA is separated from DPW, there will be a significant reduction in its operating budget. He said this would require the department to request a supplemental budget to cover its responsibilities in the areas of roadside cleaning, general road repairs, equipment and equipment maintenance and Vitran. He estimated the supplemental request to be an additional $14.5 million.
Deandre Atwell, Chief Fiscal Officer of WMA told the committee that she was a member of WMA Board of Director for six months but subsequently resigned and joined the staff of the Authority. She explained that it would take approximately $40-45 million to run the Authority per year.
Iver Stridiron, General Counsel to the Authority told the committee that the Authority's legislation was indeed in line with Federal regulations and furthermore, there were no loopholes in the law that were identified.
Other testifiers were Jimez Ashby who was given a six months contract by DPW to manage the Bovoni Landfill and Keven Ruffter, manager of Virgin Islands Recycling Inc. who was responsible for scrapped metal at the Bovoni Landfill site. Herman Fahie, Director of WMA in the Virgin Islands also testified.
Committee members at Tuesday's hearing were: Sen: Craig Barshinger, Liston Davis, Usie Richards and Celestino White. Non-Committee members were: Sens. Pedro Encarnacion, Juan-Figueroa-Serville and Terrence Nelson.

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