BVI News


In whose interest? Land owners called out!

Scientist Dr Cassandra Titley-O’Neal (left) and Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams and scientist Dr Cassandra Titley-O’Neal have questioned the interest of private developers and land owners as it relates to protection of the environment, which include ghuts and ponds located on private property.

During a community meeting last evening, Dr O’Neal, who owns Environmental Systems Limited, lamented that all ponds have been filled in Road Town, resulting in flooding.

She also noted that Government faces a major challenge, considering that it does not own the property on which a number of the ponds and ghuts are located.

“In gathering the different Government reports, we know that there was historically 77 ponds. Every single pond that was in the Road Town area has been filled. I am sure everybody can agree and recognize the flooding issues that we are having in the capital.”

“This (flooding) has a lot to do not only with the ponds, but also with the ghuts – construction of buildings in the middle of the ghut, cutting roads that do not follow the contours of the land.”

Dr Titley-O’Neal continued: “One of the biggest challenges that any government is going to face as well as the Town and Country Planning Department is our ghuts – our natural resources, our salt ponds, our mangroves are actually owned by not the government but by private interests. And so it is challenging at best to manage these resources to get the best use out of them when they are not in the hands of the government. But private interests have their own interest on how they see the value of their land and how they want to develop it.”

Deputy Governor: Stop polluting the water!

In the meantime, the deputy governor, Adams, issued an appeal for persons to desist from filling ponds and polluting the territory’s waters.

“What we are finding now is that all of our ponds are being filled up, and the natural habitat to some of the different animals are being erased. Along with that, there is quite a bit of pollutant being put into our waters. So that is an area that we need to really really focus on, to look and see where the developments are happening.”

The deputy governor further asserted: “Just the other day, a report was given that some old asphalt was being ripped up from the road and thrown into a pond, and that the fishes around there are dying. Obviously they are going to die. So we have to make sure that, as the developers are doing their work, they know that there is a proper location to store their debris, and not to put it in other places.”

“They failed to remember that global warming is upon us and, if we continue to fill up everything around the coastline, sooner or later there will be no place for the high tide to come in, and flooding of the homes and businesses around these areas will sure to happen. So, as we develop, I want us to be thinking about those ponds and other areas that they are blocking, so that the natural progression of the water will continue to happen,” added Deputy Governor Adams.

She, along with Dr Titley-O’Neal, raised their concerns during a meeting held at Sir Briercliffe Hall to get public’s views on issues regarding development of the BVI. The meeting is part of the ‘EnVIsion 2040’ assessment, which the European Union is funding for the BVI through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

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  1. Boy Blue says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    A financial incentive to landowners could be considered. They chose not to develop for the benefit of the VI , the greater Good,while living marginally.

    I know an owner who cannot get a small bank loan for home repairs and is in possession of such land. He is entertaining the possibility of selling. Cant say I blame him.

  2. Concern says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    So this is why road town and other low areas in Tortola are flooding now, but didn’t 10 – 15 years ago. Stay woke BVI, development is not always better for the environment and the people

  3. Judge says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    There is an established HIGH WATER MARK as relates to beach front properties ; something similar should have been put in place for “wet lands ” but because of GREED and lack of vision : our Country and our People will continue to suffer from lack of good leadership.

    Look at RoadTown , no room for road expansion because buildings were Not made to leave green space for side walks / bike trails/baby strollers or any thing else .

    NO VISION Look at Lee Road in VG built in a low lying area ( pond land /wet land) area yet in this modern time they have built SIDE WALK below the level of the road and continues to fill in the FINAL pond area that tries to absorb rain water run off : BUT we will all pay the price for our ASSISHNESS whether in property damage or disease from Sorry babes
    Got caught up
    U should be sleep by now , so I will say a. Prayer for U and when U wake it will be a lot easier
    Pleasant nites rest
    Love ya Jflooding of septic tanks when the water floods the low lying areas.
    Barry say ;YOU WILL HEAR
    Oreanah say ; TIS TO KNOW

    • RealPol says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Real talk. Lack of plannning is the Achilles heal in BVI progress. Throwi in a dash of greed, shortsightedness, bullheadedness, wiseacreness……..etc and we got a royal mess.

      People filling in ghuts, ponds, building or permitting to build on every square inch they own is assishness. Indeed, Barry say you will hear. Putting people to run things who do not know pullet from fowl or their as…s from elbow spells disaster.

  4. E. Leonard says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    All rivers, streams, ghuts……. etc discharge into the sea eventually. Rivers, streams……etc flow into other rivers and ponds before flowing into the sea. Nature fashions the landscape to facilitate rivers, streams, ghuts…..etc flowing into the sea.

    Filling up ghuts, streams, ponds….. etc without making provisions for continued flow out to sea will result in flooding upstream and down stream.

    Further, constructing buildings on filled in ghuts and ponds without providing for proper drainage flow can result in buildings flooding. Nature often takes back its flow path.

    Additionally, improving and hardening the landscape result in an increase in runoff volume and velocity, resulting in flooding. Moreover, ponds and mangroves serve as filters for storm water runoff, breeding ground for fish, lobsters, habitat for birds………etc.

    And though government may not own or control ponds and ghuts, it can put policies and regulations in place to manage their use. Except for in situ situations, policies should perhaps be put in place to control drainage from one property to the other.

    • Law Studenr says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      @ E. Leonard

      Your points are valid with one flaw. You forget that on our law books there is a statement that squashes what you said. That statement goes a little something like this…”At the minister’s discretion. ..”

      What does that mean? Discretion for politician A to John Doe is not the same for Little Mary. So…. it’s the politicians bending to their constituents for personal agendas and not the benefit of the country which would be a national agenda.

      Our politicians need to stop making those types of decisions and be leaders and we the people need to tell them that and hold them accountable. This can be hard because politicians don’t like when you go against them and they mark you for life for them denying you your basic constitutional rights.

      Change to leaders with a national agenda. Change the laws for national benefit. hold your leaders responsible because it’s every 4 years they come back with the same anansI story while the people hold the handle and the blade.

      Just My 2 cents.

  5. Albion says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Is this really the land owners adjacent to Ghuts?

    Or is it all the other people who come and dump garbage and throw trash into the Ghuts?

  6. E. Leonard says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    @Law Student, thanks for the shout out. Ministers discretion in my view are intended to be used for the public good. Their constituents jobs are to hold them responsible and accountable for acting for and in the public good. Community engagement is a vital process for holding elected and appointed officials responsible and accountable. Anyway, let’s talk flooding.

    Water seeks its own level and flows down hill due to gravity. Rivers, streams…….etc tend to mostly flow from north to south. Blocking or restricting watersheds (surrounding lands that channels runoff into ghuts), filling ghuts, dumping garbage into ghuts, lack of maintenance on ghuts, restricting ghut discharge into the sea, restricting sections of ghuts flow…….etc will result in flooding.

    Additionally, poorly designed roads and drainage systems will also result in flooding. Roads and drainage systems should be designed to safely carry and handle frequent rain events, i.e., 2, 5, 10, 25-year rain events. What does a 2-year rain event means? A 2-year rain means there is 50% chance of it occurring at any time.

    Similarly, a 100-year rain event means there is a 1% chance of it occurring at any time. 500-year rain events are rare events. Growth and development brings more hard surfaces, i.e., roof tops, driveways, parking areas…….etc and more runoff at a higher velocity. Drainage systems must be designed to safely carry the increasing runoff volume.

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