Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour
Department of Conservation and Fisheries
Release Date:
Monday, 25 January 2016 - 12:00pm

JANUARY 25th 2016

Madam speaker, I rise to inform the House about an exciting and important project led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour that is now underway in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay titled the North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilisation Project. This project is one that will help to ensure the economic value of these two communities, safeguard life and property and maintain the social fabric of the citizens and the wider BVI community.

Specifically Madam Speaker, this project will address the real issues of flooding, sediment pollution and beach erosion in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay in very practical and tangible ways. The North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilization Project is being implemented under the umbrella of the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) spearheaded by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.  This project will pilot the manner in which the OECS Member States will adapt to Climate Change and sustainably manage our lands   

Under the GCCA Project each participating country has been allotted resources to design and implement physical adaptation pilot projects, which are on-the-ground projects that will help to reduce the impacts of climate change to local communities. Madam Speaker, recognizing the importance of the Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay communities to our wider economy, especially our tourism product and their vulnerability to climate change impacts, including increased flooding and stronger storm surge events, these communities were carefully selected for implementation of the pilot projects that once demonstrated effective can be replicated to other areas around the Territory.

The issues of flooding, sedimentation and beach erosion are well known and chronicled in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay. Over the years business owners, homeowners and residents have experienced first-hand the costly and painful impacts of these on-going issues. I know also that over time there has been some frustration with the scale and nature of the response to these serious issues.

I am very pleased to note Madam Speaker that this current effort to address these issues, at first instance, is set apart by two important factors. Firstly Madam Speaker all proposed pilot projects will be based on the soundest science emanating from comprehensive studies of the Cane Garden Bay and Brewers hillsides, beach area and coast. In fact the consultancy team that will be conducting these studies made an initial visit to the Territory last week and will be back over the next several weeks to collect data and perform the analysis to develop a hydrologic and coastal dynamics model of Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay. Importantly, officers from various government agencies will be working alongside the consultancy team to ensure that there is a transfer of knowledge in the process. Madam Speaker, these preliminary studies are important as they will inform the designs that will form the solutions to be implemented during the latter stages of the project.  The performance of the studies is a critical step that has often been ignored in the past resulting in projects that have not addressed the core issues and in some cases have made the problem worse. Our approach, therefore is to provide a sound platform for future actions in a similar manner to a doctor with his patient, symptoms must be properly studied and diagnosed in order to proceed with the most effective treatment plan.

In a practical sense, by studying the wave dynamics, historical beach profiles, sand composition and other factors such as  coastal dynamics, the model to be derived under the project will help to tease apart the causes and thereby inform the best solutions. Before we can effectively design solutions to minimize flooding and sediment runoff to our bays we need to answer some basic questions. What is the quantity of water transferred by the ghuts in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay during heavy rain events? What other pathways carry water down the hillsides? How much sediment and other pollutants is that water carrying? The hydrologic model will help answer these questions and more.

Madam Speaker, the total value of resources allocated under the project is 842,000 Euro (approximately USD 890,000), which includes dedicated capital for the implementation of the solutions designed based on the studies and models. These will be in the form of physical pilot projects, meaning tangible projects on the ground. The Ministry anticipates commencement of the pilot projects in late 2016/early 2017 with completion by the end of 2018. Specifically Madam Speaker the project will result in at least 4 on the ground pilot scale projects; 2 that address beach erosion (one in each community) and 2 that address flooding and sediment pollution (one in each community). In addition and very importantly, the project will deliver detailed designs for the eventual restoration of some of the historic, natural salt ponds in Cane Garden Bay.  This has been identified as a critical step in correcting flooding and runoff in that community.

Madam Speaker this two pronged approach guarantees to the people of Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay that they will see actions on the ground in the near term that are scientically based and have the best chance of being successful and sustainable. I want to ensure the people of these communities that they will be informed and involved in the process to design and implement these pilot projects over the next few months. I encourage everyone to participate in the process to ensure that we achieve the best outcome possible.

It is important to emphasise that the problems that we now confront have accumulated over a number of years.  It is therefore necessary that we have a clear and defined understanding of the nature of the problems created, which informs our approach to the solutions.

Madam Speaker at this stage in our development we cannot afford to be confused about the resources and assets that our livelihood and future depend on – the environment – we must do everything in our power to properly manage and protect it. Projects like these Madam Speaker are extremely important not just to the members of these communities but to the wider Territory and will have a lingering and positive impact. Madam Speaker I look forward to updating the House on the progress of this project over the coming months.