White House Approves Federal Support for STX Sargassum Woes

Sargassum piles up in Christiansted harbor Aug. 16 – and the problem on St. Croix is not considered as bad as it is on the beaches of St. Thomas. Source photo by Susan Ellis)
Sargassum piles up in Christiansted harbor on St. Croix in August 2019. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

According to Government House, the White House has approved Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s request for federal support to help prevent the St. Croix water plant from being overwhelmed by the large influx of Sargassum seaweed. The seaweed has been threatening to disrupt normal water production there.

The scope of the federal declaration is reportedly limited to actions taken by the federal government at the request of the territory to protect the offshore water intake operations in Estate Richmond so it can continue operating at normal levels.

Bryan is asking St. Croix residents and businesses to conserve water as they can, but said water production currently is at normal levels and there is no threat public health at this time.

Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol, who is overseeing the cooperative efforts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the St. Croix water plant, said the stench from the decay of the sargassum that has accumulated along V.I. shores comes from hydrogen sulfide, which creates a rotten egg smell similar to that resulting from a ruptured sewer pipe.

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has clarified that while the current sargassum-related state of emergency is in effect territory-wide, the price freeze currently in place for water products and services applies only to St. Croix.

For accurate and updated information regarding the WAPA water plant on St. Croix and the Sargassum State of Emergency, go to the Government of the Virgin Islands Joint Information Center at vi.gov/jic/.