Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour
Release Date:
Thursday, 23 June 2016 - 2:45pm

JUNE 23, 2016

Madam Speaker, at the sitting of this House on 25th January 2016 I introduced the North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilization Project. At that time the Project was just getting started; I am pleased to report that a significant amount of work has been done since that time which I wish to share with the House today.

As a reminder, the North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilization Project aims to address the real issues of (1) flooding (2) sediment pollution and (3) beach erosion in Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay in very practical and tangible ways. The project has two phases. We are currently in Phase 1 which started March and will end in July 2016. This phase involves (1) the development of a Hydrologic and Coastal Dynamics Model of Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay and (2) the design of pilot scale projects to address flooding, sedimentation and beach erosion based on results from the models. This work is being conducted by a team of professionals from the Smith Warner International company and the Horsley Witten Group. I cannot stress enough the importance of the modelling work under Phase I. It is critical that the pilot solutions implemented under this project and wider solutions implemented separately are suitably designed to be effective and lasting. Phase II is the actual implementation of these pilot projects and will start sometime after contracts are signed in November of this year.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report that work under Phase I has been progressing well. The consultancy team has made two field visits to the Territory from the 8-9th March 2016 and then from the 25-28th April 2016 to collect data for the Coastal Dynamics Model and Hydrologic Model respectively. The teams gathered a variety of data such as (1) beach sand samples; (2) detailed beach/shorelines profiles; (3) wave, current and tide parameters; (4) ghut dimensions; (5) location of pollution hotspots and (5) existing drainage infrastructure. This was combined with other data provided by the various Government agencies and information gathered directly from community members during a very successful community meeting held on 26th April 2016. On that occasion community members from Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay learned more about the project and interacted directly with the consultancy team to share first-hand knowledge about historic changes in their respective watersheds and experiences with flooding and sedimentation.

Despite challenges with a truncated timeline the consultancy team was able to complete their modelling on time and deliver their Hydrologic and Coastal Dynamics Model Report this month. The Report provides new, detailed and highly valuable information about coastal and watershed dynamics in Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay that will not only inform pilot remedial projects under the Northshore Stabilization Project but will inform wider scale solutions needed to address coastal and beach erosion, flooding and sedimentation.

Madame Speaker, the Hydrologic Model for instance quantifies how much storm water or rainfall runoff is generated in the Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay watersheds annually and how that flow is divided between the various sub-watersheds and their ghuts. The model also quantifies how much sediment, nutrient pollution and bacteria are carried with these storm water flows. On the other hand, the Coastal Dynamics Model shows how the sandy areas in Brewer’s Bay and Cane Garden Bay have changed over time. This allows us to understand how much the beaches have eroded and how sand may have shifted from one part of the beaches to a next. An interesting find for instance is that Cane Garden Bay has lost at least 15 meters (about 45 feet) of sandy area since 1953. The model also characterises the type of sand present on these beaches and describes the wave dynamics in the Bays in detail. All of this information is necessary to design appropriate measures to recover the beaches and protect the shoreline.

In addition to the modelling, work is also progressing rapidly to design the pilot scale projects to improve conditions on the ground in Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay. The consultancy team developed several options for consideration to address flooding and sedimentation issues. These include options such as (1) installation of rain gardens, (2) small constructed wetlands to treat storm water and (3) enhancement of drainage infrastructure. Sand nourishment or natural stabilization is proposed for the beaches. These options were presented to and discussed with the Virgin Islands Climate Change Committee as well as the community at a second community meeting held 19th May, 2016. Final project selection is still underway based on feedback received and will be shared with the community shortly. A budget of just under US$ 500,000 is available to implement the selected pilot projects.

Madam Speaker, “The North Shore Integrated Coastal and Watershed Stabilization Project” is being implemented under the umbrella of the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Project on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM).  This project is being done in the Eastern Caribbean and is managed regionally by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and locally by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. As Minister I am extremely dedicated to the success of this project and I am confident that the remedial measures proposed will ensure flood resilience, protection of the beaches and maintaining water quality in Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay for future generations.

Thank you.