DPNR BEACH ADVISORY: Four Beaches On St. Thomas and One Beach on St. Croix Tested Unsafe For Swimming Or Fishing
CHRISTIANSTED — Five beaches in the territory failed water quality testing and should be avoided by swimmers and fishermen, according to the latest Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Beach Advisory.
DPNR said that four beaches on St. Thomas and one beach on St. Croix are not considered safe to swim or fish in.
On St. Thomas, John Brewers Bay, Coki Point, Secret Harbor and Water Bay tested unsafe for swimming or fishing, the agency said. Shoys Beach on St. Croix’s East End is also deemed unfit for swimming or fishing.
The agency said that it tested 29 “designated” beaches from November 6 to 9 on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
It said that it did not test Cheney Bay, Grapetree Bay, Halfpenny, Protestant Cay, Rainbow and Stoney Ground on St. Croix “could not be sampled because” of a lack of “access.” On St. Thomas, DPNR did not test Frenchman’s Bay and Morningstar beaches.
DPNR has been testing the ocean waters in Tier 1 Coastal Zone Management areas since 2004 after the federal Beach Act was passed by Congress as an extension to the clean water act in 2000, DPNR Environmental Engineer Benjamin Keularts said.
“Columbus Landing is one of our Tier 2 beaches, meaning we only sample it during certain months,” Keularts told the Virgin Islands Free Press. “For this beach, we sample from April to August. I’ve sampled it since the storm (most weeks) just because there are some beaches that we have to skip because they are either constantly subjected to foul storm water, or we just can’t reach them (such as Frederiksted Pool aka Stony Ground), so we have some extra money to extend the sampling for some beaches at times. It was skipped last week actually due to road access at the time of sampling, but I plan to sample it this week.”
The local agency tests ocean waters in areas that are used by the greatest number of people, are popular with water enthusiasts and have the greatest accessibility to the public, Keularts, who is the TPDES Permit Administrator in the Water Pollution Control Program for DPNR, said.
DPNR has been testing the waters in the territory out of a “concern for human health” and because it is mandated by the U.S. government under the Clean Water Act, he said.
Rainwater runoff is the greatest threat to clean ocean water in the Virgin Islands and DPNR is testing for ocean waters that “do not meet water quality standards because they exceed the established Enterococci bacteria threshold.”
Enterococci are potentially-infectious bacteria common in the feces of warm-blooded animals, including humans. In 1986, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended using enterococci in place of fecal coliform bacteria as the preferred indicator of fecal pollution and health risk in marine water.
High levels of Enterococci bacteria and turbidity may be caused by runoff due to heavy rains, heavy marine vessel traffic, high wave activity near the shoreline, irresponsible recreational use, etc. Runoff can consist of sediment, pesticides, animal feces and oil & grease, all of which are harmful to the waters of the territory.
DPNR said it will continue to monitor these popular swimming and also recommends that you use your own discretion when swimming or fishing at the designated beaches.
If the waters appear muddy or murky or have foul odors, do not swim or fish. For additional information regarding water quality call the Division of Environmental Protection at (340) 773-1082 in St. Croix.
The following beaches meet established water quality standards and ARE considered safe for swimming or fishing:
Buccaneer, Cramers Park, Cane Bay, Dorsch, Pelican Cove (Cormorant), Frederiksted Public Beach, Princess Condo Row (Mill Harbor to Breezez), Spratt Hall, New Fort (Ft. Louise Augusta) and Protestant Cay
Bluebeards, Bolongo Bay, Hull Bay, Lindbergh Bay, Limetree, Lindquist, Magens Bay, Vessup Bay and Sapphire
Cruz Bay, Oppenheimer, Great Cruz Bay, Frank Bay and Johnson Bay