Bryan declares a state of emergency due to Sargassum seaweed flooding

Sargassum fluitans. (picture from source file)

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the territory to mitigate the impact of unusually high amounts of Sargassum algae accumulating on USVI shorelines and negatively impacting the water production capacity in Sainte-Croix .

Bryan also sent a request to the Biden administration to declare a federal emergency in St. Croix over the Sargassum flooding, and teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were to be on the ground Sunday to help the government coordinate a response, according to a Government House press release on Sunday announcing the state of emergency.

Due to the accumulation of Sargassum, maintenance efforts have increased to keep the St. Croix desalination plant water intake free of algae and biological debris resulting from ecosystems associated with large Sargassum blooms, says the press release. In addition, the reduction in water production could also have a negative effect on the power generation capacity of the VI Water and Power Authority, he said.

While there are currently no negative public health impacts from Sargassum buildup, Bryan is advising residents of St. Croix to conserve water as the government moves to address issues caused by the sargassum. the seaweeds.

“I want to assure Holy Cross that we do not anticipate any public health impact from this annual sargassum invasion of our waters, including the stench we have all sadly learned to live with each summer,” Bryan said. “However, seaweed invading our beaches can also disrupt business and have other negative financial impacts on our economy. I have assembled a team that includes key public agencies including Health, DPNR and VITEMA, as well as as semiautonomous agencies that have come together to coordinate efforts with FEMA and other federal partners.

The decree designates Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol as incident commander and directs VITEMA to activate emergency operations centers; directs the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs to institute relevant price freezes on certain goods and services; directs all agencies under the direction of the Governor to cooperate fully with the efforts of the DPNR; and suspends certain relevant supply requirements to mitigate the issue, the statement said.

While the immediate threat from Sargassum is specific to St. Croix, preventative efforts are also underway in St. Thomas to prevent adverse effects on water production capabilities in that district, the statement said.

DPNR monitors the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System to track and forecast Sargassum blooms and potential impacts, and algae are expected to affect the waters of Caribbean until mid-October, he said.

On Friday, Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Richard Evangelista ordered a price freeze on bottled water, drinking water and water trucking fees in St. influx of Sargassum seaweed is affecting WAPA’s water production facility on this island.

“The massive influx of Sargassum seaweed on or about July 15 had a negative impact on the water production facility at the Water Authority Estate Richmond Plant and Virgin Islands Electricity … resulting in difficult intake pump efficiency due to clogging, maximum filter backwashing, increased chlorine injection, and threat of membrane and equipment failure, according to the ‘order.

WAPA is already at peak water production in gallons per day due to the territory’s longstanding drought, the ordinance says. The influx of sargassum “threatens the production and planned territorial management of water storage for the community”, he said.

To complicate matters, the Richmond Power Station is under an Environmental Protection Agency consent decree that requires the availability of “ultra-pure water” used as an emissions control. nitric oxide for gas turbines, the production of which may be threatened by Sargassum. influx, depending on the order.

According to the order, prices are frozen at existing levels “on all items required for water production and/or due to the effects of lack of water production at WAPA, including general supplies and services, including , but not limited to” items such as bottled water, drinking water, ice, trucking fees for drinking water and trucking fees for transporting Sargassum to landfill. These items are also prohibited from export or sale outside the territory until the order is lifted.

“These measures are instituted to protect the welfare of the public during the emergency period and to prevent speculative practices related to all elements related to water production and/or the effects of the lack of water production at WAPA, including general supplies and services, which are essential during the massive influx of Sargassum seaweed,” according to the order.

Printable, PDF and email version

About Ren Valdez

Check Also

Chehalis City Council roundup: September declared National Preparedness Month; Subdivision code changes and budget changes discussed

By Owen Sexton /[email protected] Chehalis City Council issued a proclamation at its regular meeting early …