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EPA Has Its Eye on Coral Bay


Nov. 6, 2006 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that the Coral Bay area will serve as a pilot project in its V.I. Environmental Stewardship Initiative.
"Coral Bay typifies the issues found across the territory," said Jim Casey, the agency's St. Thomas-based coordinator, at a meeting of the Coral Bay Community Council held at the John's Folly Learning Institute.
About two dozen people attended the meeting.
Casey said that like several other areas across the Virgin Islands, Coral Bay's watershed is being overrun by development. He mentioned Salt River and the East End of St. Croix and the Bolongo Bay area on St. Thomas as places with problems similar to Coral Bay.
"Region 2 of the EPA is aware that this is a growing concern in the Virgin Islands," he said.
He said according to the U.S. Census, Coral Bay is the fastest growing area in the entire Virgin Islands.
With the increase in houses under construction on the hillsides above Coral Harbor, the water often turns brown when it rains from dirt washing down the hillsides.
Casey said after the meeting that no specific projects have been identified yet. However, he said the partnership comes with funding assistance and personnel to carry out whatever projects do develop as well as resources for conducting research.
The Community Council, which held its annual meeting in conjunction with Casey's talk, said the area's storm water run off was on its list of projects for the following year.
"We're moving into watershed planning to identify areas for storm water retention ponds," organization president Sharon Coldren said.
Also on the list are plans to address a drainage problem on a road through a privately-owned junkyard, more involvement with EPA and the Planning and Natural Resources Department and a program to convince homeowners to plant their property to help reduce storm water runoff.
"There should be no bare dirt," Coldren said.
Casey said that a storm water regulation plan to be implemented by Planning is now waiting for Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's signature. He said the plan was 12 years in the making and involved negotiations between EPA and Planning.
He called on the Community Council members to pressure the governor to sign the plan before he leaves office in January.
"Look, we need your muscle," Casey said.
The organization also announced plans to put up a "Welcome to Coral Bay" sign near Bordeaux.
Coldren said the group raised $1400 for the sign at a June fish fry.

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