Stony Masonry employees oversee paving and road work at Upper Johnny Horn Trail as part of CBCC’s extensive storm water projects under a major NOAA grant.
With a June 30 grant deadline looming ever closer, Coral Bay Community Council officials are racing to get all planned 18 storm water projects wrapped up, or at least underway.
CBCC, in conjunction with the Estate Fish Bay Homeowners Association and V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council, won a $2.7 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Of the three main partners, CBCC’s planned 18 projects storm water projects are the most ambitious and complex. VIRCD oversaw a stabilization project in East End Bay on St. Croix, while the Estate Fish Bay Homeowners Association saw the neighborhood’s roadways paved and swales installed to reduce the amount of runoff in the area.
In Coral Bay, CBCC partnered with Department of Public Works, various homeowners’ associations and residents to make as much of an impact with the roughly $1.4 million from the NOAA grant as possible. While several projects have already wrapped up, the organization is racing against the clock to get work going on all projects by June 30, explained CBCC president Sharon Coldren.
“The clock is ticking,” said Coldren. “We have a lot going on, but we also need to get moving on several projects. We know we’re working against the clock at this point.”
A bio-retenion pond located on King’s Hill Road, on an easement granted by the Egbert Marsh Trust, has been completed. Road work on Calabash Boom has also wrapped up with swales, drainage bars and step pools installed.
By teaming up with Hansen Bay residents, CBCC was able to lend expertise and see its $83,000 paving project extended by several hundred feet, and $72,000, explained Coldren.
“That is a real example of how much more we can get done when we work with residents and home associations,” she said.
Road work on Johnny Horn Trail is also just about complete, Coldren added.
“Stone Masonry is finishing up at Johnny Horn where they installed some swales to direct water into the natural gut,” she said.
Directing water back into natural guts is an over-arching theme in most of CBCC’s storm water projects, Coldren explained.
“It’s really important for natural water ways to be respected because then the water slows down, goes into the aquifer and you have less water rushing down to the sea full of sediment,” she said. “In all of the projects we tried to get water back into the natural gut flows. Sometimes that is impossible, but where it can be done, it’s best.”
Unable to reach an agreement with Moravian Church officials, CBCC was forced to scrape a planned sediment detention basin on land right behind the Emmaus Moravian Cemetery, according to Coldren.
“We couldn’t reach an agreement within the necessary time frame for the grant,” she said.
A rain garden installed behind the Coral Bay Fire Station is complete and is expected to further slow down the flow of water in the area. Water flowing through the gut there will also nourish the garden and release more sediment.
A project at Lower Bordeaux Road, Route 108, is still under construction. Officials have cleared out a culvert in that area which had been blocked for years, Coldren explained.
“It took two days of work to get in there and dig out the culvert,” she said. “That area was blocked since it was paved. We installed silt screens on the grates to keep things out that should not be in the culvert.”
“Now we hope the culvert will function properly,” said Coldren. “It should also be easier to clean out with the silt screen.”
DPW officials will assist in maintaining the culvert on Route 108, Coldren added.
“On this project and on many of our projects we’re actively working with DPW,” she said.
High on Bordeaux Road, where DPW recently completed a paving project, CBCC is installing a trench drain to reduce the amount of water flowing into Plum Gut, Coldren explained.
“When the road was cut up there, it directed a lot of water into Plum Gut instead of the natural gut where water used to flow properly,” said the CBCC president. “The drain should reduce the flow into the Spring Garden area.”
Residents in the area, who formed the Bay Rum Estates, are working with CBCC to install a swale over their roadway to keep the water in its natural gut, according to Coldren.
“They’ll put the swale in where the water crosses their road, so their road won’t be washed out and the water will remain in its natural gut,” she said.
CBCC is currently in the process of obtaining a minor Coastal Zone Management permit from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to pave the Spring Garden gut road crossing, the CBCC president explained.
“We’re working with the Clendinen family who owns the property in the neighborhood to pave the gut where it crosses the road,” said Coldren. “That will ensure the water stays in the gut.”
The St. John CZM Committee approved a major permit application for CBCC to install a sediment detention pond in Estate Lower Carolina off Centerline Road, which is expected to restore the main gut. CBCC is wrapping up required paperwork on that project and hopes to hire a contractor soon, Coldren added.
CBCC is also working with residents on Mill Vista Road to pave a portion of the dirt road. CBCC plans to pave the intersection where the road meets Centerline Road and a small portion of the neighborhood road, while residents are hoping to pave a larger portion of their access road, according to Coldren.
“Residents in Mill Vista are really doing a great job of jumping on board and cooperating with us,” she said. “They are really going to take a look at how their driveways meet the road and they’re going to pave a larger portion of their road. They are really stepping up to the plate and doing a companion project making the project more effective all around.”
CBCC also has storm water projects planned on Gerda Marsh Road, in the lower Carolina Valley, where it is working with the Lower Carolina Valley Homeowners Association, William Marsh Road and on the Lower Carolina Valley main roadway off King’s Hill Road.
A planned hydro-dynamic separator in the gut located next to Shipwreck Landing will be the first time the technology is used in this area of the Caribbean, Coldren explained.
“It’s basically a vortex that you install and it takes muddy water flowing down the gut and across the road and it will reduce the amount of sediment” said the CBCC president. “It will not clean the water 100 percent, but it should substantially reduce the plume flowing into the sea there.”
The hydro-dynamic separator will require regular maintenance and here again CBCC is working in conjunction with DPW, Coldren added.
In the John’s Folly area, CBCC is also working with a homeowners’ association and Estate Concordia Preserve owners to remove a culvert, regrade the road to pitch it to direct water to its natural flow and install a swale, according to Coldren.
“We’re all partnering in that area to redirect the water back to its natural watershed where it feeds a fresh water pond in the area,” she said. “It will also reduce the storm water runoff in John’s Folly bay below.”
CBCC also plans to improve areas of Route 107 in the John’s Folly area to further reduce storm water runoff and erosion in the area, Coldren added.
When June 30 does roll around, Coldren hopes to have all projects either wrapped up or underway, she explained.
“Our goal is completion, but we’ll settle for underway,” said Coldren.
Even after the grant ends, CBCC will continue to work toward reducing the amount of storm water runoff in the Coral Bay watershed. The group will also plan meetings with stakeholders and government agencies to share lessons its learned through the grant projects, Coldren added.
“All of these projects are elements of the larger Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan, for which we were selected to be a pilot and model community,” said the CBCC president. “We want to meet with other agencies and groups to talk about lessons learned and how these projects can be implemented in other areas.”
For more information on CBCC and its on-going storm water projects, check out www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org, or call the group’s project coordinator Blake Parker at the CBCC office at 776-2099.