Residents of Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay had an opportunity this week to learn more about four pilot projects which are designed to reduce flood damage, sedimentation and pollution of coastal waters and enhance coastal water quality and reef health in both communities.
On Tuesday, April 26, the residents met and held discussions with officials on the Northshore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilisation Project with representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and the Horsely Witten Group.
Funding for the project will be provided by the European Union under the regional Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) Project on Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) coordinated by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The project outline includes the delivery of four pilot projects in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay; one watershed project to address flooding/sedimentation/pollution in each community and one coastal project to address beach erosion/shoreline projection in each community. A sum of $478,000 is available for the implementation of projects for which contracts will be signed by November 2016.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering provided a comprehensive overview of the issues in both communities from the top of the watershed to the reef. He emphasised the importance of the restoration of natural ecosystems in both communities including salt ponds, ghuts and reefs.
Minister Pickering stated, “It is important that we understand the importance of the beach to the community and the wider economy of the Virgin Islands. Everywhere that there is a beach, there is a pond; this is a standard geological feature. We have to recreate the ponds that have been destroyed.”
Second District Representative Honourable Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull reiterated the value of the project in protecting life, property, infrastructure and economic activity in both communities.
He added, “We have to preserve what we have. The beach is our product and if we do not take care of the product, the customers will go away.”
A large portion of the meeting was spent collecting detailed data from community members about changes in the watersheds over time, the current situation and recent experiences with flood events.
Community members also worked with the Horsely Witten Group and the Ministry’s team to map the previous extent of salt ponds in the watersheds, the historic flow paths of ghuts, flood depths in various areas of the community, sections of unpaved roads, major sources of sediment and pollutions and other critical information for the hydrologic model.
All projects will be designed based on the hydrologic model of both watersheds and a coastal dynamics model of both bays currently being constructed under phase I of the project by the Horsely Witten Group and Smith Warner International.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering at a sitting of the House of Assembly on January 25, announced the initiation of the North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilisation Project.