Cruz Bay Waste Water Pump Station Upgrades Expected To Close Most of Customs Parking Lot


V.I. Waste Management officials discuss the logistics of the upgrades to the waste water pump station in Cruz Bay.

V.I. Waste Management Authority officials will kick off a $1.2 million upgrade to the Cruz Bay waste water pump station in the next few weeks, a project which will force the closure of most of the U.S. Customs parking lot for a about a month.

The project is expected to take eight months to complete and will bring the current outdated ejector system, located adjacent to the Cruz Bay public restrooms in the U.S. Customs Parking lot, up to code, according to WMA officials.

“You need the pump station to pump waste water to the treatment facility at Enighed,” said project engineer Michael Woolington. “The current system works, but it’s old and outdated. We are putting in a modern facility that will save on electricity and maintenance costs.”

May Cornwall, WMA executive director, along with Woolington, WMA chief engineer Jim Grum, chief operating officer Steven Aubain and WMA district director of solid waste Mario Leonard hosted a town hall meeting on Friday night, August 3, at St. Ursula’s Multipurpose Center, which failed to draw any St. John residents.

The public meeting was the first time WMA officials tried to share plans for the upcoming waste water pump station upgrade, explained Cornwall.

“We didn’t get input from the public during the design phase so we are doing that now,” Cornwall said. “We will have more public meetings as well. This type of project will require educating the public throughout the project.”

St. Croix-based Island Roads Corporation won the bid for the project, which was ready to begin last month, Cornwall explained.

“We were ready to go before the fourth of July, but saner minds said, ‘No, let’s wait,’” she said.

WMA must still work out the issue of a missing parcel number on the government property, and then will give Island Roads the green light to get started. It is the initial phase of the project which will likely close most of the parking in the U.S. Customs lot, explained Grum.

“In front of the public bathroom there is an ejector pump station 15 feet deep,” said Grum. “We are installing wet wells 20 feet deep, so we must install sheet pilings in order to create a safe environment for the construction. That takes big machinery and materials and will affect the parking area.”

The initial phase, when the U.S. Customs parking lot will likely be closed to most vehicles, is expected to take a month, Grum added.

While expected to add to Cruz Bay’s existing parking problem, the project will also dislocate popular local food and drink vendor Patrick’s West Indian Delight. An alternative location will have to be found for the vendor, St. John Administrator Leona Smith explained at the meeting.

“Patrick Joseph has an agreement with V.I. Port Authority,” said Smith. “They will have to find some where to relocate him.”

The worst of noise and dust pollution is also expected to be contained in the first phase of the project, after which disruptions in the area should diminish until the final phase, explained Cornwall.

“The impact will be early on in the project,” she said. “I say we get started this month and have the large impact done by November or December.”

While most of the parking lot will be closed, a portion of the lot will remain open during entire construction in order to maintain access to the Department of Health’s ambulance boat and the U.S. Customs Office, Cornwall added.

The area won’t look much different after the project is complete, but will save the territory money, explained WMA.
“The existing fence will be expanded a few feet and there will be two round hatch coverings,” Aubain said. “There will not be a building; it will all be in the ground.”

“The new system will be closer to a manhole system,” said Woolington. “It will collect and pump out to the Enighed treatment facility. Once it’s set up, we will replace the instrumentation and everything will be up to code.”

“The pumps are also more energy efficient and will save money,” said the project engineer.

The project is being paid for by a $1.2 million in Department of Interior funding, according to Woolington.

Once upgrades to the Cruz Bay waste water pump station are complete, the island’s waste treatment system will be in good shape for the foreseeable future, explained Aubain.

“The Cruz Bay treatment plant is 10 years old, which is pretty new and it’s kept in good shape,” he said.

Looking ahead, WMA also has an agreement with VIPA officials to use a parcel of land adjacent to the existing waste water treatment plant if the facility needs to expand, Cornwall added.

“For long term planning, we have the space already secured,” she said.

WMA also discussed plans to remove mounds of scrap metal from the Susanaberg Transfer Station by the end of the month and rebuild the broken solid waste compactor by mid-September.

“The solid waste compactor keeps breaking down,” said Aubain. “We have a welding company coming in which will refurbish the entire compactor and the ramp and we’re going to replace the controls too. At the end of the day, the compactor will be operational which we are hoping to happen by mid-September.”

Having the trash compactor back online will alleviate loose garbage in the area and help cut down on the animal problem in the area, Aubain added. 

“We are also going to put in fencing along the road and the back side of the compactor,” he said.

WMA officials also plan to contact Department of Agriculture and Animal Welfare to help keep roaming animals out of the area, Cornwall added.

“Animals should not be out loose like that,” said Cornwall. “It’s too much.”