BVI News

Nearly half-dozen sewerage complaints weekly | Overpopulation among the causes of issue

While citing multiple reasons for the BVI’s chronic sewerage problem, the Department of Environmental Health has said it receives just fewer than half-a-dozen sewerage-related reports/complaints weekly.

Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael cited that statistic while telling BVI News the number of reports relating to sewerage is too many for their comfort.

“In a given week, we get about four to five reports of various complaints. The odour that comes from the inadequately treated sewerage in the communities is discomforting for people but there are no reported cases of waterborne or foodborne diseases as a result of this. But, yes, it is a major threat,” Michael stated.

“We get some kind of sewerage report every week from people in East End, West End, Huntum’s Ghut, Road Town but primarily in the East End Long Look, Green Land, Long Swamp areas,” he added.

Cause of the sewerage problem

The environmental health boss said the problem was mainly due to poorly-constructed septic tanks and absorption systems, along with the overpopulation of certain areas.

“They are not properly built. Consequently, they are not treating the waste properly. They are undersized, they are inadequate to treat the volume of waste on the properties and hence waste is disposed of in varying times in the East End community,” Michael stated explained.

The department head further said: “They have not built them correctly and now to rectify the problem it is costly … To go in now and remedy the problem is a significant infrastructure and financial challenge.”

Measures to solve the problem

Michael also revealed that his department conducted a national workshop which taught several residents how to build septic tanks and absorption systems by their guidelines. He said persons have since been using the guidelines to properly build and construct the septic tanks.

He also said the only way to properly solve the problem is for the government to develop a sewerage system in the overcrowded areas where the issue exists.

“In those circumstances, we do recognize that government should have a sewage system in place to alleviate some of those problems. But, clearly, the people in East End need a sewerage system.”

He, however, said residents must also bear the responsibility of proper disposal of their waste.

“Government does have a responsibility where real estate is limited, crowding is an issue, and on-site systems may not be the right one, to put in a sewage system. We support that but each and every individual has the responsibility to ensure that their waste is disposed of in a safe and sound manner,” Michael argued.

Under their tenure as government, the previous NDP administration removed some $8 million that had been budgeted to address the sewerage issues in East End. As BVI News understands it, those monies were never returned.

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  1. strupes says:

    They don’t want to pay to pump their sewage and that is the bottom-line….Some people built septic tanks for buildings with 1 floor and ended up building 4 floors instead….That’s the problem

    Like 29
  2. strupes says:


    Like 14
  3. Retired says:

    I agree with Mr. Michael but the sewage problem is widely spread all over Tortola. In many areas sewage is discharged into guts and rain drains that eventually lead to the sea. There are fewer complaints in these less populated areas of Tortola because there are less people affected by the sewage odor.

  4. see says:

    This is only half the story . Yes some septic systens are undersized and improperly constructed . The owners should be fined immediately and systems required to be fixed .. or buildings shut down . The second travesty is the non operating of two STATE OF THE ART sewerage treatment plants in the East and in Road Reef. The poor excuses being floated are a joke . Have the resolve to get them both up and running !!!! They are relatively simple systems to operate . If no one here has the knowledge then train people or bring people in because we are risking disease , polluted waters , dead marine life , and harmed tourism . Lets stop acting like an uncivilized territory . There is no excuse … this is the 21st century for God’s sake.

    Like 24
    Dislike 1
  5. Texas Visitor says:

    Honestly the country should be ashamed there There’s nothing that supports the countries Natures Little secret Everything from the dumpster fire to the open sewage it’s a disgrace

    Like 15
  6. TBS says:

    The fowl farm in CGB is discomforting too!

  7. Resident says:

    This is not new information tortola has had a sewage issue for a long time, you can smell it almost as soon as you leave the roadtown dock

  8. Eyes wide shut says:

    Leadership leadership leadership.

  9. E. Leonard says:

    The BVI population has exponentially increased (~30,000) but the wastewater (sewage) system has not effectively and efficiently kept pace. Septic systems are still prevalent. To keep pace with and preferably outpace growth and development, the BVI needs to invest in a comprehensive wastewater management system, ie, collection, conveyance, treatment, discharge, central plant(s)……etc. The capital investment needed to design, construct, operate and maintain the system will be a heavy lift. Nonetheless, it is the cost of doing business as a developed/developing country. Undoubtedly, the territory has a myriad of needs on its bucket list but wastewater management must be a top priority.

    Moreover, septic systems are a basic treatment process used in the BVI. In developed countries, septic systems are used primarily in rural areas, remote locations……..etc. For septic systems to operate effectively, they must be properly design, constructed and maintained. Septic systems must be designed to meet the demand of the facility it serves, ie, home, business, apartment……..etc. As a minimum and as a rule of thumb, the septic system must have the volume to hold waste for at least 3 days so that anaerobic bacteria can break down the solids and to protect the system.

    If the system is undersized, solids will be prematurely discharged from the system and untreated, resulting in clogging and failing of the system. Within the septic system, there is scum that floats on the surface, wastewater(black and gray) and sludge that falls to bottom. To protect the system and ensure it operates and functions effectively, the tank must be pumped out periodically.

    Further, without a leaching field, the tank must be pumped out more frequently. Typically, acreage must be available to rotate leaching fields. Additionally, the territory is a leading yachting center in region. As such, it needs pump out stations for the yachts and other marine crafts to pump out their waste.

    • 2CENT says:

      While I agree with whats you are saying there is a lot more to this than is put out there.
      Some septic system fail due to the amount of chemicals and antibiotic being dumped into them people tend to flush any and everything these things can kill the needed bacteria hence rendering the septic system useless the same goes if you install a treatment plant it has to maintain a set balance of bacteria the right amount and type of chemicals also needs to be added for the system to function correctly,

    • RT says:

      Time to limit immigration?

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
  10. Uncle says:

    “Overpopulation among causes of the issue” Really?Is there too many arseholes putting $h*t in the country?

  11. Dman says:

    Overpopulation and bad infrastructure, gotta fix BOTH. Please ENFORCE the Health and Building codes or it will just keep getting worse.

  12. Mike Hammer says:

    A heap of chitty bum people souse etc.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  13. Yeah says:

    They need to fix the problem, from talking “schit”….lol

    • Mike says:

      Where is the waste of time dude from the 7th he is so less but I am not surprised one bit.look how he have the long look eastend area it have a tree in the commuty center almost reach the other side of the road that tree was always kept well groomed and the yard well not now come on dude that’s your district.up to now I can’t see a blessed thing from u

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