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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Virgin Islands (Section 319I - 1994)

The Virgin Islands Nonpoint Source Program aims to protect natural groundwaters and marine coastal waters by mitigating both land and marine pollution sources. These sources include runoff carrying sediments eroded from building and road construction to the near-shore coastal waters, nutrients discharged from vessel waste holding tanks into coastal waters, and nutrification and contamination of surface and groundwater from leaking septic systems.

The 319 program and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Coastal Zone Management Program under section 6217 are working together to identify pollution sources and mitigate the problems. These programs are cooperatively supporting the Virgin Islands Nonpoint Source Committee, a diverse group of individuals from the public and private sectors who advise and oversee the 319 work plans. The Virgin Island has received a total of $210,000 in section 319 grants since 1991. Addressing the Sources to Protect Precious Waters With sediment from construction sites a major problem, the Nonpoint Source Committee decided to take an educational approach by giving an old handbook a fresh look. By revising the Environmental Protection Handbook, first published in 1970, the committee can provide the most up-to-date information to builders and developers on best management practices for erosion and sedimentation control at building and road construction sites. The committee will use approximately $35,000 of its FY 1991 section 319 funds--totaling $58,000--to print and distribute the revised handbook.

With the remainder of the FY 1991 appropriation-- approximately $23,000--and local funding, the committee has contracted with a private consulting firm to assess the problem of leaking septic systems on the three - islands. The committee has reviewed several versions of the draft plan, which details the existing problems, recommends solutions, and suggests revised legislation concerning on-site disposal systems.

A portion of the $152,000 in FY 1993 funds will be used to further study and develop solutions to the septic problems uncovered. Another portion of the FY 1993 funds will be used to put in place an education program that will include producing a nonpoint source pollution video, dealing with problems unique to the Virgin Island. The greatest portion of FY 1993 funding is being used for a stream sediment/water quality and groundwater quality study by U.S. Geological Survey.

To encourage boats to stop discharging nutrients into the coastal waters, the Division of Environmental Protection is identifying marinas located near concentrations of moored live-on-board (LOBs) vessels. Using $30,000 of FY 1994 section 319 funds, DEP will provide marinas with vessel pump-out systems. Because the Virgin Islands has identified dumping of waste from boats as a major nonpoint source problem, section 319 funds are being used--even though the solution is a point source system. DEP is working to amend the Virgin Island mooring and anchoring laws to require LOBs to pump out waste to an approved system, rather than discharging it overboard. A successful fall 1993 conference on nonpoint source pollution drew more than 100 attendees from the Virgin - Islands and U.S. mainland locations. Coordinated under the 6217 program, the regional conference addressed issues peculiar to Caribbean life. In addition to best management practices and effective erosion and sedimentation planning at construction sites, the conference also addressed such wide-ranging subjects as subdivision planning, on-site sewage disposal system options, alternative energy sources, and alternative building products--recycled materials used in manufacturing building supplies. Sessions also included stormwater management, marinas, boating and hydrologic modification, and agriculture and wetlands management.

To increase interest in NPS pollution, the conference committee sponsored essay and poster contests in local schools. The senior and junior high school winners were recognized and received monetary awards at the conference. A second conference is planned for November 1994. The conferences are being funded using $20,000 of FY 1993 and 1994 monies.

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