The Board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority on Thursday approved a contract for restoration services in case of a hurricane or other natural disaster, and approved delaying the implementation of a drug testing policy.
The board, however, put on hold a proposed extension of a contract with Total Petroleum to supply fuel for the WAPA fleet of vehicles.
“I recall that there was a major cost in transporting fuel from St. Thomas to St. Croix in the contract," board member Gustave James said. "Since the situation has improved on St. Croix, are we still paying a premium?”
The proposed contract called for $181,752 to be spent on St. Thomas/St. John and $164,000 on St. Croix for vehicle fuel.
Norris Griffin, of WAPA’s corporate services, said those are the same costs as last year and nothing had been said about fuel racks now present on St. Croix. When asked whether WAPA was getting the best rates possible, Griffin answered that WAPA was getting a bulk rate that came out to $1.74 per gallon.
Although the present fuel contract expires at the end of June, the extension was put on hold until further negotiations could take place. Board member Noel Loftus said, “Even in a jam; we can buy a truck load.”
Board chairman Gerald Groner expressed concern that when a contract come up for renewal the board should have more than just a week’s notice.
Training has begun on the authority’s drug, alcohol and unauthorized substances policy, and much much of it is done, WAPA’s interim chief executive officer, Julio Ryhmer Sr., said. But he said he would like to see the training completed before the policy is implemented. For that reason, he asked, and the board approved, that the deadline be extended from June 10 to July 1 of this year.
He mentioned the union had “minor problems” with the policy but he did not indicate what the problems were or if they would hinder the program going forward.
The board also approved a change order for the installation of a filtration system and an upgrade of the water line from New Street tank to Strand Street, Frederiksted.
Rupert Pelle, director for water distribution on St. Croix, reported to the board that the project would mean “cleaner and better water” for all the customers along the route and in Frederiksted.
The change order did not ask for additional funds, only a 45-day extension of the contract ending date. The extension was justified, according to Pelle, because of the unusual amount of rock encountered along the route and because work had to be stopped while a different source of funding was applied.