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All of us are affected by the air we breathe, the energy we use, the water we drink and our waste disposal system.  We count on you to help us to share information and ideas, so that we all may become more knowledgeable about our islands and coastal waters and what activities would hurt or help the islands, coastal waters, Virgin Islanders, endangered species and our planet Earth.

 

Our objective at greenervi.org is to create an environmental forum for Virgin Islanders, to share information on environmental issues, and to work with Federal and local agencies to find solutions to our environmental challenges in the United States Virgin Islands.

 

We are meeting with the EPA on 2/25/13 and 2/27/13. Please register for free and vote your support by clicking the box and giving your (confidential) email so we can tell the EPA that thousands of Americans and/or Virgin Islanders support having a watchdog publish air, land and water quality information for the USVI.

 

From: Susan Wolterbeek [mailto:susanremy@vipowernet.net]
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 4:38 PM
To: ‘Enck, Judith’
Cc: ‘Mark Lichtenstein’; ‘Pabst, Douglas’
Subject: An interim solution
Importance: High

 

Dear Judith:

 

Thank you for our lengthy conversation Tuesday. Since the EPA does not want to get involved in Receivership, I have two concepts which will achieve our immediate goals of learning the true conditions of our air, land and coastal waters, and then formulating a plan to protect people and coral.

 

Until now, despite court orders and requests by the EPA, VIWMA and DPNR are still not telling citizens the truth about the dumping of raw sewage and turning over water test data, etc., as well as air quality data.  DPNR often will not post sewage warnings on impaired beaches, because, according to Jamal Nielson of DPNR, “the hotels don’t like them to post about sewage”.  The non-compliance reports filed are never complete, and sometimes are missing altogether. We only know this when the illegal dumping is caught and reported by our newspapers, and there are no non-compliance reports for those dates. We who live here do not know where it is safe to swim, fish, snorkel. We do not know what to say to our islands’ visitors.

 

EPA FUNDED DATA GATHERER/WATCH DOG/LIASION

 

        As you know, we at GreenerVI.org have been working for the past 3 years to stop our local utilities from polluting VI coastal waters. Here is the plan: The EPA funds a project, starting immediately, for GreenerVI.org to gather and publish relevant data from DPNR, VIWMA, WAPA, EPA, NOAA etc. in regard to the environment. In a letter to our Governor and the Senate, the EPA asks the local agencies to comply with GreenerVI requests for information. In this way, we can review prior Court Orders and verify that VIWMA and WAPA are in compliance, according to their own documents. We can see what is being measured in water tests, and what is not.

 

According to the EPA, http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/cwa/305b/upload/1998_05_07_305b_96report_vi.pdf,  for example, DPNR does not test for “phosphorus, nitrogen, and suspended solids” in St. Thomas or St. John, yet those tests are critical to coral, as well as people. GreenerVI.org will publish air and water quality results, and have a comprehensive, interactive website, so that members of the public, as well as agencies, will all have a voice, and get answers for once!  In this way we can be a liaison to the people, sharing information. I know that thousands of us will volunteer our time, energy, tools and money to help clean up our islands, if given the chance. Dave Maxwell had the top level clearance in Intelligence at the Pentagon before he retired. He will manage the information and the website. I am a former NYC prosecutor and attorney for the State of NH, and will review and report on all legal issues and prepare documents and reports.

 

This EPA funded project will enable the people of the VI to finally be given the information they are legally entitled to know, and this will help us all to unite in our quest to help preserve our natural resources.

 

 

  1. We need to know where it is not safe for people to go in the water, particularly for babies, the elderly and those of compromised health.
  2. We need to learn the present condition of the remaining coral and turtle grass.
  3.  We need the polluting to be stopped by VIWMA and WAPA, and by the cruise ships blowing their stacks-especially Oasis of the Seas.    
  4. We need to start a plan for the mountain of Red Mud in St. Croix-there is a company which can recycle the commercial arsenic, etc., and all the other poisons, with a by- product of water resistant/waterproof bricks to be used for building materials.

 

Judith, if you would also ask the CDC to inquire as to water- born infections treated in the USVI for the past 3 years, then we will have a much better idea of what is going on in our territorial waters. A friend of mine was being treated for a staph infection in the ER-along with 6 others at the same time. There are many people who have been in danger of losing their limbs due to staph infections, especially MRSA and flesh eating bacteria. We need to know the truth, and the CDC will respond to the EPA, but not to us.

 

The other idea worth exploring, particularly if you are meeting with the Governor, is to see if he will CONSENT TO PRIVATIZATION OF WAPA AND VIWMA- This would enable Mark Lichtenstein and Sue Parten to go full steam ahead with all of their plans, and allow NREL and DOI to develop the best solution for our energy needs, as quickly and efficiently as possible. The key is that the selection of the contractors, engineers, etc., is not in the hands of the local government.  I earnestly believe that if the EPA makes clear to the Governor that this will enable the VI to get our utilities to stop polluting and crippling us with costs, that he will agree. With such a Consent Agreement, we can save our coral, as well as our health and economy.

 

I look forward to seeing you on Monday, Judith, and meeting with Doug on Wednesday. Cheers, Susan

 

We filed Suit against VIWMA, DPNR and the EPA

Since the EPA will not enforce the federal order or file for Contempt, Susan K. Wolterbeek, President of GreenerVI.org has filed a Citizen’s Suit in Intervention against VIWMA, DPNR and the EPA, for all violating the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. We are  asking the Court to place VIWMA into Receivership, order the EPA to pay for the Receivership and all necessary equipment for our wastewater systems, and to force the EPA to consult with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, part of NOAA), to begin the research and revitalization of VI coastal waters. The company taking over Waste Management will have transparency, stop dumping raw sewage, and will also give us comprehensive recycling, composting and marine pump-out stations, while closing our unlined dumps.

In his recent Opinion of 3-31-11 Judge Gomez stated:

One of the most precious and visible natural resources that the Virgin Islands possesses is its territorial waters. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, the waters serve as a source of great entertainment, recreation, and food. They also serve as the economic backbone for those whose livelihoods are sustained by its bounty. They are also extremely vulnerable.

Given their important, yet vulnerable position, protection of these waters and the well-being of so many who come in contact with them would seem to be a concern of the Government. That concern is hard to appreciate when the very entity that should serve as a protector is responsible for pumping the staggering amount of 50 million gallons of raw sewage into the Caribbean Sea. Adding insult to that injury is the fact that the bypass discussed herein occurred without notice to the affected public. It is equally hard to appreciate when the bypass of raw sewage seems avoidable with some degree of planning.

It is clear that Judge Gomez cares about our coastal waters. We hope he will soon grant us intervention in the suit, place VIWMA into Receivership, and join the other federal agencies.  The new Salt River National Park is affected by the dumping of raw sewage, and the Department of the Interior (DOI) oversees the protection of our environment. With the National Park Service, the DOI and NMFS jointly sharing in this project along with the EPA, much can be accomplished through federal funding and inter-agency coordination to revitalize our coastal waters.

 

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We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.
–Adlai E. Stevenson II, 1965 

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