Free Potable Water Testing Available on St. Thomas, St. John

The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) encourages residents to test their cistern potable drinking water on a regular basis — at least every six months — or if they notice any change in quality (i.e., taste, smell, color or visibility). Testing helps assure that their potable water supply is safe to drink and bath in, and that their filtration and UV purification methods are working.

During the recovery from the 2017 hurricanes, people became more aware of the value of finding out if their water contained bacteria above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Standards limits. Testing is an important task in managing Virgin Islands drinking water from rainwater cisterns.

To assist residents with getting their drinking water tested, there is a special program currently being funded by Rotary District 7020 Hurricane Relief and managed by the St. Thomas Rotary Club II in partnership with Ocean Systems Laboratory to cover the cost of the drinking water analysis for individual residents. This program provides free residential drinking water tests for 1,000 cisterns.

Any resident on St. Thomas or St. John can get their water tested by going to Ocean Systems Laboratory (located in Red Hook, across the street from the Food Center, next to the new Taco Chelles restaurant), the only EPA-certified laboratory open to the public on St. Thomas and St. John. Pick up a sterile sample bottle and form (a deposit of $10 dollars will be required for the sample bottle), then fill the sample bottle and return it and the form to the laboratory on same day that the drinking water sample is collected. After the sample is analyzed, results are generally emailed from the laboratory to the resident within 72 hours.

It is also possible to schedule Ocean Systems Laboratory to come to a person’s home on St. Thomas and St. John upon request by calling 714-1911. The lab will collect samples for a fee of approximately $70, including the analysis.

“In Coral Bay, for most residents (owners, landlords, renters and boaters), making two trips to St. Thomas to get free water testing is just not realistic,” said Rachel McKinley, CBCC Environmental Projects manager. “Therefore, the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) will be helping Coral Bay residents to manage their potable water supply by providing a one-time group pick-up and drop-off service at CBCC’s office.”

This service was developed as an add-on to the St. Thomas Rotary Club II water testing program to alleviate the time and costs in picking up and dropping off drinking water samples for Coral Bay residents.

CBCC has periodically provided this pick up/drop off service since 2010 and is looking forward to helping Coral Bay residents again. To participate in this event, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Starting Monday, Jan. 28, residents can stop by the Coral Bay Community Council’s Office (across from the Coral Bay Fire Station) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to register with a deposit check for $10 payable to Ocean Systems Laboratory, and pick up a sterilized container and sampling forms (until supplies run out). Sample bottles are limited and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Step 2 – On Monday, Feb. 11, Coral Bay residents will collect their drinking water sample and drop it off along with forms from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Deposit checks will be returned upon receipt of the forms and sample.

This event is follow-on work that was supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) grant program and a part of The Coral Bay Watershed Management Project. : Resource & Waste Management.