St. Thomas

St. John

St.Croix

SENATORS UPDATED ON THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WASTE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY OPERATIONS, TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY SHARE UPDATE ON INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

Published: Oct 3, 2023

SENATORS UPDATED ON THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WASTE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY OPERATIONS, TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY SHARE UPDATE ON INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

ST. THOMAS – The Committee on Housing, Transportation, and Telecommunications, chaired by Senator Marvin A. Blyden, convened in the Capitol Building on St. Thomas to take testimony from the Waste Management Authority on the status of landfills and solid waste and wastewater issues; and also to take testimony from providers and regulatory agencies about the status of telecommunications in the territory, including about the status of operations inclusive of landfills, implementation of the tipping fees, and the solid infrastructure projects, federal broadband funding, and customer service issues.

Senator Blyden noted that although VIWMA’s update was comprehensive, the status of the Bovoni Fire should have been included in the testimony. “I was looking forward to hearing an update regarding the status of the fire, the lessons learned during this ordeal, and a long-term plan to mitigate these issues in the future. Additionally, I wanted to hear what’s being done with respect to the pupils and residents as far as health is concerned, reopening the schools, and testing the air quality.”

Richard Merritt, Jr., Executive Director of Virgin Islands Waste Management, testified that a total of $50 million is required for disposal and treatment services and waste and water collection. However, the agency is chronically underfunded, as $35 million was allocated from the General Fund to VIWMA for FY 2024. Presently, VIWMA is diligently working on the CDBG-DR Grant Tranche 3 application, which totals one hundred million dollars. Some of the projects that the funds are designated for include the Bovoni Landfill Expansion Project, the Bovoni Landfill Closure Project, and the Anguilla Landfill Closure Project.

The Waste Management Authority testified that implementation of tipping fees for solid waste provided the necessary funds to bring landfills into compliance and settle existing liens. The daily collection, treatment, and discharge of nearly four million gallons of wastewater by VIWMA facilities Regarding solid waste, the authority is establishing waste diversion programs that focus on minimizing the deposit of recyclable and organic materials in the landfill. VIWMA is progressing with the implementation of long-term initiatives that will make waste diversion an integral part of the territory. VIWMA is in the process of implementing initiatives and replacing unmanned bins with convenient disposal centers.

Separately, policymakers were updated by key players in the telecommunicationi Industry. Based on an audit of all Viya’s communication and technology solutions, customer support was identified as the most important area for development, according to Geraldine Pitt, the CEO of VIYA. VIYA’s initiatives include Fiber to The Premises, implementation of the 5G Network, and conversion of the cable television platform to an HD digital platform. Stephan Adams, President, and CEO of viNGN, Inc. indicated that operational failure to the core system would adversely impact the company. Therefore, infrastructure upgrades are necessary and viNGN is currently replacing core network equipment because it is outdated, unserviceable, and replacement parts are unavailable. Weighing in Andrew Smith, Executive Director of the Water and Power Authority stated that WAPA’s involvement in telecommunications and broadband in the Territory entails granting telecommunications and broadband providers access to WAPA’s utility infrastructure. Furthermore, providers of telecommunications and broadband must conduct and submit the necessary engineering analysis to ensure that their equipment can be reliably installed on WAPA’s poles.

Liberty USVI officials stated that delays in obtaining permits have prevented it from constructing at the required rate to meet federally-mandated deadlines. To date, it has submitted 75 permit applications to DPW, the equivalent of 19,332 residence passes, according to Ricardo Portela, Vice President of Technical Operations for Liberty USVI and Broadband VI. To date, a total of 75 permit applications, or 19,332 residence passes, have been submitted to the Department of Public Works. DPW has authorized 18 permit packages totaling 4,000 home passes, while 57 packages are still pending approval. The remaining quantity of tickets would amount to 15,332 home passes.

Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Marvin A. Blyden, Marise C. James, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Samuel Carriόn, Ray Fonseca, Diane T. Capehart, Milton E. Potter, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Ray Fonseca, and Carla J. Joseph.

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on legislative proceedings and other events at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

####

Find More

April 2024
MTWTFSS
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930 

Related Content

COMMITTEE RECEIVES ST. THOMAS CARNIVAL SAFETY UPDATE

COMMITTEE RECEIVES ST. THOMAS CARNIVAL SAFETY UPDATE

ST. THOMAS – The 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands’ Committee on Homeland Security,Justice, and Public Safety, led by Senator Kenneth L. Gittens met in the Earle B. OttleyLegislative Hall on Thursday. Lawmakers received an overview of safety and security...

read more
COMMITTEE VETS BILL HONORING VAUGHN “AKAE BEKA” BENJAMIN

COMMITTEE VETS BILL HONORING VAUGHN “AKAE BEKA” BENJAMIN

ST. CROIX - The 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands’ Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection, led by Sen. Carla J. Joseph, convened at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. Lawmakers met to consider Bill No....

read more