Sept. 15, 2003 – The Water and Power Authority's undersea water line from St. Thomas to St. John should be in operation by the end of 2004, the utility's environmental affairs manager, Gregory Rhymer, said on Monday at a meeting of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee.
"We could breathe a sigh of relief no later than 2004," St. John Administrator Julien Harley, who chairs the CZM committee, said.
The submarine water line should put an end to the periodic water shortages that plague St. John, particularly in the winter season when demand is up or when hotel desalinization plants aren't functioning.
St. John residents currently depend on water from a WAPA desal plant and another operated by Seven Seas Water Corp. The two plants currently produce around 300,000 gallons of water a day, which is what the island needs at the absolute peak period. Rhymer said after the meeting that on a typical day, residents use between 75,000 and 100,000 gallons.
The three committee members — Harley, J. Brion Morrisette and Madeline Sewer — voted unanimously to give WAPA an extension on its CZM permit for the project — the issue before them for the meeting.
While the submarine water line should end water shortages, WAPA is still faced with storage problems.
Harley said people in several neighborhoods were asked to sell or lease land to WAPA for placement of a storage tank, but no one wanted such a structure near their house. "They said it would block their view," he said.
Rhymer said WAPA is looking at enlarging existing tanks to solve the storage problem while continuing to look for new sites.
Morrisette suggested that WAPA explore the possibility of putting a tank at the Enighed Pond commercial port now under construction. Harley said the Port Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have to give the okay for doing so.
Rhymer said the undersea water line, which will run from Red Hook on St. Thomas's East End to Frank Bay just south of Cruz Bay on St. John, should be in place by the end of this year. But it will take until the end of 2004 to finish work on the connection on St. Thomas from Cassi Hill to Red Hook, he said. WAPA's line running east from its plant in Krum Bay currently ends at Cassi Hill in Anna's Retreat.
WAPA received the CZM permit in February 2001. The Legislature gave its approval for a one-year permit in March 2002. A lack of funds subsequently prevented the project from getting off the ground, but WAPA says funding is now in place.
By law the committee has five members; however, two of the seats are vacant. Monday's meeting had been rescheduled from Friday because Morrisette was unable to attend then, leaving the committee without the quorum of three.

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