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US Virgin Islands request and receive emergency declaration for sargassum problem

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Federal Government, Science and Environment, United States Virgin Islands | 0 comments

In the town of Christiansted on the northern shore of St. Croix, the Sargassum problem has grown and has become unbearable. The continuous flow of seaweed is impacting water production at the VI Water and Power Authority plant in Richmond.

In order to relieve the territory of this problem, the Bryan administration requested a federal state of emergency declaration to address the sargassum problem which has grown to be detrimental to all aspects of St. Croix’s operations. Governor Albert Bryan (D) explained during the administration’s weekly briefing that this emergency declaration will solve four problems regarding the Sargassum issue. 

The very unpleasant odor of seaweed has been assembling along the island’s shores and has negatively affected the health of residents by causing illnesses and nausea. The sargassum also stifles the oxygen in the water and kills fish. The sargassum also gathers in bays where there are resorts and the overwhelming scent has been impacting the territory’s economy. “People don’t want to stay where they have to smell the stench of that day and night,” Mr. Bryan said. The US Virgin Islands relies heavily on tourism as it is not provided with sufficient funds being the territory that it is. For this reason, the sargassum problem if continued would greatly affect residents economically.

Another problem that the emergency declaration would address is the sargassum clogging the water intake lines for the Seven Seas, a company that makes distilled water from the ocean. Seven Seas produces around 3 million gallons of water for St. Croix daily and 2.7-2.8 million gallons of which are consumed. Due to the growing Sargassum issue, instead of clearing out the plant a few times monthly, it has to be cleared out several times daily. More chlorine was also requested as the unpleasant scent of the sargassum is also affecting the water. While the water is clean it smells terrible which makes the situation more difficult. 

President Biden approved this emergency declaration for this sargassum-related problem terrorizing St. Croix’s shores. With this approval has started plans to solve this issue. He also said that a large mass of sargassum is on its way to the island and the territory will be dealing with this issue through to October-November.

Mr. Bryan also counseled St. Croix residents to conserve water. “What I would advise everybody to do now is conserve water, you know we’re going through a dry season. It’s a lot of water coming over across the Atlantic; it’s looking like it’s going to be raining in the next couple of weeks. But if you’re on city water try to conserve that as much as possible, because one of the other problems is usually we maintain about 6 million gallons in our tanks, but we’ve been having a drought, so the tanks are really low. They’re down to about 2 million gallons, so if you’re in St. Croix, please just conserve your water,”. Two million gallons of water is not a lot to sustain the island as it has a population of over 50,000. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gaelle Jean-Pierre

Gaelle Jean-Pierre

Gaëlle Jean-Pierre is a senior in high school from Southern California. She intends to major in political science prior to going to law school in the future. At her school she is involved in the Advanced Choir Council, Mock Trial, Student Government as Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion, Amnesty International Club as Treasurer and Speech, and Debate Club as Treasurer. She also founded an Entrepreneur Club. She is passionate about acknowledging cultures that are inadequately represented as she has lived in 5 different countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, and the United States of America. In her free time, Gaëlle enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and singing. She is a US Virgin Islands Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.

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