Road work near Hansen Bay and Privateer Bay will improve storm water drainage.
Coral Bay continues to see relief from sedimentation thanks to a major grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The V.I. Resources Conservation and Development Council, Inc. was awarded more than $2.7 million in NOAA Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to reduce watershed runoff and protect coastal and marine habitats.
V.I. RC&D launched the project in partnership with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Coral Bay Community Council, Estate Fish Bay Homeowners Association, The Nature Conservancy, UVI Center for Marine & Environmental Studies, and various researchers from the University of San Diego and University of Texas-Austin.
The ambitious project will reduce runoff across the Virgin Islands, with road work in Estate Fish Bay, erosion control practices in East End Bay on St. Croix, and through about 18 separate projects in the Coral Bay area.
After untold hours of work by volunteers who wrote the grant application, officials are thrilled to start seeing results from some of the NOAA-funded projects.
On Kingshill Road, a bio-retention pond has already stemmed some of the tide of storm water runoff rushing into Coral Bay’s western shore. Along the bay’s eastern shore, a newly paved section of road will keep even more sediment out of the bay.
The Hansen Bay Road Improvement Project, funded through the NOAA grant and two homeowners’ associations in the area, was set to wrap up last week.
The Hansen Bay Homeowners Association and Privateer Bay Homeowners Association covered $72,000 of the work with the NOAA grant covering the other $83,000. Together the funds covered paving a roughly half-mile section of road in the Hansen Bay/Privateer Bay area.
Other portions of the roadway in the area were paved, but this section included portions that were not solely under the jurisdiction of either association.
The collaboration with NOAA as the third party enabled the paving of the road without one group having to cover the entire cost, explained Sharon Coldren, CBCC president, who is overseeing the Coral Bay projects with CBCC storm water engineer Chris Laude.
“This is a great project because it shows partnership and the willingness of these groups to help out,” said Coldren.
The road work includes concrete paving of the dirt road, a swale on the hill side of the road and landscaping with propex erosion control on the ocean side.
Before it was paved, sediment from the dirt road would wash down into pristine Hansen Bay below.
“During rains, the water would flow down the paved portion of the road and then hit this unpaved section,” said Laude. “The water would pick up sediment and flow right into the bay below. Now that it’s paved, there is going to be a significant reduction in the sedimentation flowing into the bay.”
Carlson Construction was contracted to do the concrete paving and the crew wrapped up in near-record time, Laude explained.
“They were using some new techniques and were planning on finishing in a week,” Laude said. “Because of the heavy rains we got, the project ended up taking 14 days. But I think that is still quite impressive.”
Seeing some of these long-discussed projects wrapping up was a welcome sight for the CBCC officials.
“It feels really good to see these projects getting under way and getting completed,” said Coldren. “It’s especially good to work in cooperation with these homeowners associations to improve the storm water drainage. Part of our commitment to NOAA was that we had some groups who were willing to spend some money to help with these projects if they had the expertise and leadership.”
Officials were pleased with the Hansen Bay area improvements as they turned their eyes to completing a project in the Calabash Boom area and getting underway on the 15 planned projects to be covered under the CBCC’s portion of the NOAA grant.
Keep an eye out in upcoming St. John Tradewinds issues for more NOAA grant reports.