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Princess Beach In Condo Row Fails To Meet Water Quality Standards For Swimming Or Fishing

Condo Row (Princess)

CHRISTIANSTED – Only one beach in the Virgin Islands failed to meet established water quality testing standards – Princess Beach (Condo Row) on St. Croix, according to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).

DPNR environmental engineer Benjamin Keularts told the Virgin Islands Free Press that “we define Condo Row (Princess) beach as the length of beach line going from the Mill Harbor west concrete structure to the beach line in front of Breezez (restaurant near Club St. Croix).”

“Due to its length, we have two sample points we use, with samples taken every week,” Keularts said in an exclusive interview on March 21. “Attached is a picture of the beach line. The line in red indicates the extent of the beach line as we use it under the beach program, and the two thumbtack points indicate where we sample from for those two sample points mentioned.”

Former St. Croix Republican Party president and environmental activist John Boyd said on March 23 that he has noticed raw sewage flowing into the ocean in areas near the site condemned by DPNR in Estate La Grande Princesse.

“Take a walk from Doc Petersens house towards the Nature Conservancy and go up past Granada Del Mar behind the old project,” Boyd wrote on the Facebook component to the V.I. Free Press. “You will find open sewage manholes and this sewage line then proceeds into the sea from the conservancy to the front of Mill harbor and the line parallels the coast down to the pumping station. This line in the sea has been leaking since 1995. This is 100% certified USVI government waste. It’s in the sea because when the project and Elena Christian (Junior High School) were built, this was the cheapest way to route the sewage to the pumping station.”

DPNR said 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, he said.

The local environmental protection 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.

DPNR performed water quality analysis at 33 designated beaches throughout the territory during the week of March 14 to 18.

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 water quality standards and are safe for swimming or fishing:

St. Croix

Stoney Ground, Protestant Cay, Buccaneer, Cramer Park, Frederiksted public beach, Pelican Cove (Cormorant), Shoys,
Rainbow, Chenay Bay, Grapetree Bay. Dorsch, Cane Bay, New Fort (Ft. Louise Augusta), Halfpenny

St. Thomas

Lindquist, Coki Point, Bluebeards, Secret Harbor,
Bolongo Bay,Water Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Sapphire, Hull Bay, Magen’s Bay, Lindbergh Bay, Brewer’s Bay, Vessup Bay

St. John

Johnson Bay, Cruz Bay, Great Cruz Bay, Oppenheimer, Frank Bay

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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