BVI News

UPDATE: St Thomas Bay beach now safe for swimming

(Not the beach mentioned in the story)

The St Thomas Bay beach in the Valley on Virgin Gorda is again open to the public.

This follows water quality test results which show that conditions are now suitable.

Laboratory Technician in the Environment and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Atoya George said: “After continued water quality testing at the various locations along the coast of St. Thomas Bay, the results now show that conditions are up to standard for water contact activities.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources continues to work diligently to carry out water quality testing on beaches throughout the Territory to ensure the preservation of the pristine nature of its environment and protecting the health of the public.

The Environment and Climate Change Unit may be contacted at 468-2700 for more information or to report any concerns about swimming conditions at beaches in the territory.

The government says is working diligently to clean the Territory’s beaches and coastlines.

Previously Published Story (October 18)

High bacteria levels detected on VG beach! Location closed

“Elevated bacteria levels” have been detected at the St Thomas Bay beach in the Valley on Virgin Gorda.

Sections of the beach extending from Fort Point to Collision Point is therefore closed to recreational use.

“The unit collected and tested water at various locations along the coast of St Thomas Bay. The results showed elevated bacteria levels particularly in areas where a ghut exists. We are conducting further testing in the area and as soon as conditions improve beach users will be given the green light for water contact activities,” Laboratory Technician in the Environment and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Atoya George reported.

Assessment of the area will continue and the public will be advised when the beach is safe and open for recreational use, a media release from the said ministry stated.

In the meantime, George said water quality testing is being done beaches throughout the territory.

“The preservation of the pristine nature of our environment and protecting the health of the public is of utmost importance; our people are our most valuable asset, followed by our environment,” she said.

 

 

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24 Comments

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  1. Doh says:

    Uh oh…

    No boats to blame this one on…

    Like 13
    • Truth says:

      The main culprits are sewerage runoff and overboard dumping of boat sewerage. Also roadside/ bushside dumping of garage waste can get flushed to the sea when we receive heavy rains. A task force needs to be put in place to monitor areas around beaches and the sea in general. If they can spot problems ahead of time they can be corrected before reaching the sea.

      Like 5
      Dislike 2
      • Doh says:

        Still no boats…

        So don’t blame them. You could have 200 boats dumping in one place and not show bacteria or sewage levels. Been proven that is NOT the case.

        Stop spreading myths and fake news.

        Like 7
        Dislike 1
      • Blacka says:

        @truth
        We don’t need no task force for this… Tell the Government ********** club stop pumping their sewage into the drain next to the port building. Then the government needs to go to millionaire street and deal with all who pumping their sewage in the drain that then runs into the marina. problem solved for you right there. The government needs to grow balls for all and not just the small people and put an end to the BS in the BVI the world is watching us.

    • Sooo says:

      So let’s see. No boats for the past 8 months. The only source is the Belonger once again dumping raw sewage into the water. I laugh at the environmental tax (white tax) that you charge tourists. How about taxing the real culprits of the destruction of the land and sea…The Belonger. Oh don’t forget no boat anchorage because the boats will destroy the reefs. I guess sewage doesn’t do anything. Lmfao

      Like 13
      Dislike 1
  2. E. Leonard says:

    The sea/water/receiving body is the major draw for tourism for both land and water visitors. Tourism is 1/2 of the economic twin pillars( financial services other 1/2)and a major employer; Covid-19 has highlighted its economic importance and structural weakness as an economic sector.

    Consequently, the pristine nature of the sea must be protected to the maximum extend practical and possible. The sea is the major attraction but polluting it will drive visitors away. Cannot kill the goose that lays the golden egg. What are the potential causes of the pollution?

    Potential causes of pollution include a)discharges from marine vessels, b)illegal and indiscriminate dumping, and c) runoff from land, e.g., pesticides, oils, brake fluids, insecticides, animal waste, bird waste, raw sewage………etc. The worst time to go for a swim close to shore is right after a heavy rain; the first flush is unsightly and nasty.

    Moreover, discharging raw sewage from shore and marine vessels adversely impacts the beneficial uses of the sea, i.e, swimming, fishing, boating, diving, as well as other recreational activities. Discharging raw sewage into the sea poses a hazard to human health. Further, polluting impacts the sea which in turn impacts use and enjoyment of the sea, tourism, employment, government revenue, foreign exchange earnings……….etc.

    Thus, government must legislate and enforce strict measures to protect the sea by improving both runoff from land and discharges from marine vessels. Additionally, the water quality of all areas should be tested frequently and residents advised of the quality and risk of consuming sea food catch/harvested in a polluted area.

    • Hmm says:

      So it’s been proven on the US side, especially during their shutdown, through vigorous testing at all anchorages that boat discharges are NOT polluting the waters. During the shutdown, DPNR tested water quality when over 800 vessels were moored or anchored in the territory. This included the protected and sensitive areas of St John. The waters were tested for everything from E. coli, bacterium, and yes feces.

      Their results? No increased levels were detected that would be harmful to the public.

      PLEASE STOP SPREADING THIS MYTH. You are not only hurting the very industry that is trying to help the BVI, but you are also showing an ignorance to the science disproving your position.

      Stop it

      Like 7
      Dislike 3
      • E. Leonard says:

        Relatively confident the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) adheres to the Federal Clean Water Act(CWA) United States Code (USC) Section 1251, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Code of Federal Register (CFR) 33 Part 159 among other federal environmental regulations.

        Under the CWA, vessels are prohibited from discharging raw effluent within three miles (3) of shore. Further, vessels are permitted to discharge within the 3 miles if they are using either a type 1 or 2 Marine Sanitation Device (MSD). And in protected zones, they are required to have holding tanks with type 3 MSD. Environmental experts can correct any errors, if any.

        Seems like the environmental regulatory standards on both sides are somewhat different. Agree with Boats not the cause this time (below) that pump out stations are needed urgently. And for pump out stations to be effective, there must a comprehensive, modern sewage management system ashore. As a minimum, holding tanks should be required. The same folks that are now luke warm about environmental regulations may be the first to sail off to the next area when the VI waters are polluted. Locals will be left holding the bag.

        • Hmmm says:

          So those same boats that were in USVI anchorages were not only USVI registered, but also cruisers and charter boats of different nationalities. The majority were BVI flagged. These vessel have holding tanks, but ALL, by design, are also set up for overboard discharge. Most cruisers and charter boats, as a courtesy, DO NOT discharge directly in anchorages or near shore. They perform this while under way.

          The unique situation created by the Covid shutdown and the closure of ports across the Caribbean provided officials with an actual “petri dish” test for substances previously mentioned. Some vessels were moored for periods up to 4-5 weeks, never leaving their mooring to discharge past the 3 mile limit as prescribed. Since moorage was limited, fear of losing a mooring was prevalent among all boaters, so they remained in place. So it’s realistic to assume that they discharged overboard regularly.

          Still, with testing, there were no appreciable traces of life threatening bacteria registered anywhere in the USVI. Let that sink in. There were more vessels in the USVI than at any time previously and still there were no changes to water quality.

          Both the USVI and BVI are blessed with trade winds and their prevailing currents. These actions allow a continuous turnover of water along the coastlines. The BVI has used this to its advantage with the implementation of modern sewage disposal by sending the effluent offshore. The millions of tons of water that pass by daily clear this and serve to break down the waste. As distasteful as that sounds it’s a reality.

          So let’s take an example of 50 vessels moored in CGB. IF they all dumped their holding tanks overboard at the EXACT SAME TIME, it would not even be a recordable amount on a water quality test.

          But yes, let’s add pump out stations that will not be maintained. And where does that sewage go from the stations? It should go to treatment plants and then to the sea. But how many treatment plants are there in the BVI?

          It’s a noble idea with merit.

          Like 2
          Dislike 1
        • Thoughtful Sailor says:

          This comment lacks context. 1) Almost every vessel in the USVI or the BVI, and that is capable of people living aboard, has a holding tank, and has done so for years. That is doubly true for the Charter Fleet, which, in the BVI, have to be inspected. This inspection includes holding tanks. Now, do all the boats use them? I doubt it, although many do. 2) During the period of lockdown, referenced by “Hmmm”, most of the abnormally huge number of boats (Hmmm notes there were more than 800 boats, all included) had their owners or crew onboard. These included charter boats, and many, many cruising boats that needed a safe haven. Do you think all of these boats were going out three miles every time they needed to empty their holding tanks, assuming that they were using them? Or, can you name the minuscule places that have pump out stations that work? The fact is that the pump out station method of handing sewage was developed for, is appropriate to, and works in areas where there are lots of boats, with very little overnight use. Like much of the US. In other areaa this is frequently not the case, and yet tests, such as Hmmm referenced, and others that have been done, over the years, in the BVI, have shown the water quality to be fine.

          It is convenient, however, to always point a finger at boats, because it deflects the discussion from other, less convenient sources. Every now and then, we have a situation that clearly demonstrates that the boats are very seldom, if ever, the source. The situation in this article clearly is not affected by boats. There are very few running around, these days, and none, in this case.

          Like 1
          Dislike 1
    • Boats not the cause this time says:

      There are no boats out there, yet the problem was bad enough to cause closure. The means land-based problems are severe. Boaters typically take the brunt of the blame, yet here is proof they are not the primary problem and may be far less than people realize (currents, fewer numbers, and more).

      We should have holding tanks on all boats, and require their use. But this only works if pumpout stations are required at every island, every marina, and regulations for depth and ease of access and penalties for broken equipment. Without this, regulations won’t work – this has been proven countless time in other countries (many in the US for example). If a pump-out has to be done a couple times a week, and takes half a day to get there, wait, deal with broken equipment and find another place … people will just ignore it.

      Two problems – focus on shore-side pollution, and create regulation around availability of pumpout stations (prior to becoming a zero-discharge zone).

      Like 10
    • And... says:

      There are 3 (THREE) pillars of the economy. Yacht/charter boats, tourism, and the financial sector.

      Please get your facts straight

      • Thoughtful Sailor says:

        Yachts and charter boats are considered to be part of Tourism, because that is what they are. And they are a bigger part than the lands side part. Recommend more research, on the poster’s part.

      • Where.... says:

        @And, where and what is the third economic pillar. Take a break from the keyboard and take a seat. Or in BVI lingo, go siddung.

        • Thoughtful Sailor says:

          The Government has been trying to determine what a third pillar might be. Fishing and farming? Medical Tourism? Cannabis? At the moment, there are only two, the Financial Sector and Tourism, which includes the marine portion.

          • and says:

            Actually there are three even though there are two officially claimed. The charter industry stands on its own as does the land based hotel tourism. We saw this clearly after Irma.

            The charter industry was the first sector to bounce back and recover. Vessels were replaced and foreign boats and crews were gladly welcomed in. It has shown to be its own revenue stream, providing valuable income for the territory regardless of the state of land based hotels, BnBs, resorts, or private residences.

            Now we have closed borders. Land based tourism operations have been hamstrung under current policies of closure. Marine activities the same. People would book to come to the BVI tomorrow if they knew they could access the charter fleet. It’s provides social distancing and immediate lodging, while providing the treasury with much needed revenue.

            No my friends, the charter fleet IS the unsung third pillar. Unfortunately, those who comment here don’t recognize that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hidden sewerage pipes could be a culprit?

    • hit the nail on the head says:

      It running from one of the two restaurants up the street. Start testing from there.

      • Blacka says:

        @hit the nail on the head

        Every body knows its coming from the marina sewage plant. Stop spread BS on the 2 restaurants on that road it’s not coming from them.
        The pipe is there for every one to see right in the area of the metal grate when you drive out the parking lot.

  4. Duh says:

    There are LOTS of homes and hotels in Virgin Gorda that have raw sewage running into the sea. Why is it that these stories come out? Does the newspaper just put the ‘new guy’ on the story and walk away!?
    Just ask some people that live here. We will tell you. We will point to the spot in the sea where sewage comes up every day.
    How is this BVI Love thing going to work if we all have our head in the sand?
    Of course we need pristine water. But just saying that over and over is not going to make this work. We have to change a few things. And it is going to cost money to change it. So government, maybe you give money to these violators to install new systems. Not right they don’t get in trouble for keeping pipes in the sea for 20 years, but it will start to change things for the better!

    Like 12
  5. Vg man says:

    What you expect when it rains heavy and all the water running from the top straight down Into the sea.Can you only imagine what’s going into the sea?

  6. Political Observer (PO) says:

    The late Beryl “Teacher Bev” Vanterpool was championing and shouting from the mountain top on the illegal discharges into the sea in VG before her untimely passing a few months ago. Yet too many just heard her strong voice on environmental issues as just noise and a nuisance, an inconvenience. But the platform and soap box she was on and the campaign and war she waged against illegal discharges was/is real and has serious real life, community and national consequences.

    Today, St. Thomas Bay probably for the first time in history or at least the first time in recent memory is closed for swimming because it is polluted. It was Teacher Bev’s desire to stop the illegal discharges and maintain the pristiness of the sea. However, if the source(s) of the pollution at St. Thomas Bay, VG, along with other areas, is not found and rooted out the problem will persist and more closures will result. This will not be good for the tourism product.

    The support/response for Teacher Bev’s war against pollution was tepid and luke warm. Nevertheless, her fervent and aggressive message against pollution and preserving the environment didn’t pass on with her and is alive and real. Let’s let her message, her passion reverberates and resonates throughout the community and the territory with effectiveness, gaining the focus of government officials.

    Moreover, though the St. Thomas Bay incident is only a single incident, no doubt there are other raw sewage and other environmental challenges in the territory. The BVI is a developing country and safe and proper sewage management is a quality of life and standard of living issue. Sewage management must be elevated to the top of territorial priority list. Health and economy are dangling in the balance. Teacher Bev, rest easy, for Butch is on job.

  7. Gross says:

    Cane Garden has been stinking for the last few months also – smells like battery acid or something.

    The two governments we have had since Irma have done nothing substantial to build back the territory. They blocked the RDA and got rid of all the experts who each have decades of experience that we need and that ought to be in the process of being passed on to our people.

    For what? We all know for what and it’s that same old attitude to using the country’s finances that gets us sub-standard schools, infrastructure, pollution everywhere, patched up roads/tracks that destroy the pipes below, and our vehicles, and fall to pieces every year.

    It should be clear why there is a public spat created in enmity to the Governor and why there is independence noise without laying any of the groundwork. To distract everyone from what’s happening.

    The irony is, if the governments had worked diligently, contracts would still have been handed out and jobs created, wealth created and in short order, we could have the resilient infrastructure and have proved our good governance and be much closer to having a meaningful independence debate.

    This cycle needs to stop if we want to prosper.

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