Aug 07, 2023
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (“WAPA” or “Authority”) would like to provide the public with an update on the sargassum impact to St. Croix’s desalination facility located next to the Richmond Power Plant and operated by the Authority’s’ long-standing partner Seven Seas, who produces potable water from seawater via reverse osmosis water plants.
Though experts have predicted a reduction in seaweed for the season, several areas, including areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South Florida, continue to see moderate levels of sargassum. Sargassum is generally not a threat when floating out at sea. However, when it reaches land and begins to decay, it is more than an inconvenience for water production. On Tuesday, St. Croix began experiencing an influx of sargassum on the northcentral shoreline where the Richmond Power Plant is located along with Seven Seas.
Within the past 24 hours, several key steps have been taken to reduce the impact on water quality and production from the Authority and Seven Seas:
Increased frequency of filter change-outs;
Additional cleaning of membrane units scheduled;
Increased Chlorine injections to reduce microorganisms found in sargassum; and
Activation of coordinated efforts and communication with VITEMA, local and federal partners.
Though these efforts will continue over the weekend to ensure the Authority meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for potable drinking water, customers may experience an unusual odor and discoloration.
The Authority reassures the community that all steps are being taken to provide the highest quality potable water despite the occurrence of sargassum. Should additional sargassum continue to impact the ability to capture and produce fresh potable water, potential water interruptions island-wide could occur as the Authority works to manage supply effectively.
The Authority will continue to monitor and evaluate the sargassum situation as it evolves diligently and is working with VITEMA, alongside local and federal partners, to develop long-term solutions to combat the growing prevalence of sargassum proactively.