The Smith Bay / Water Bay Nonpoint Source Pollution Education/Outreach Project engaged the Smith Bay community and other public and private stakeholders in characterizing the conditions and suggesting solutions to the stormwater and NPS pollution problems in the SB / WB watershed. There is no doubt that serious environmental and public health & welfare threats exist as a result of the stormwater and NPS pollution problem. Public outrage over the situation is well known, especially because of flooding on Smith Bay Road and standing water on Coki Point Road in recent years

The goals of this project are to inform the public on the causes of the stormwater and NPS pollution problems they are witnessing in their watershed and suggest priority projects (Best Management Practices or BMPs) that will mitigate those problems, while positioning the community to seek funding for implementation of BMPs through publication of a watershed management plan that satisfies US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Guidelines.

Gathering, compilation and reporting of technical watershed information was led by the Horsley Witten Group (HW) with input and guidance on problems and opportunities from local residents and businesses.  The Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS) and the Smith Bay Community Action Foundation (SBCAF) coordinated stakeholder involvement and project communication through townhall meetings, public events, a website and social media.

Executive summary

Located in northeastern St. Thomas, the Smith Bay watershed is approximately 1.4 sq. miles and is divided into three main subwatersheds, each draining to Water Bay, Sugar Bay, and Lindquist Beach/Smith Bay. The Smith Bay watershed offers a unique opportunity to compare hydrologic conditions and watershed health between Water Bay and Lindquist Beach subwatersheds, which represent a heavily urbanized and a relatively undeveloped drainage area, respectively.

This report describes watershed conditions and presents management recommendations based on field observations and input from a very active community. The overwhelming concern identified by watershed stakeholders relates to flooding in the Water Bay subwatershed caused by extensive development, alteration of the natural guts and wetlands, and inadequate drainage infrastructure.

Therefore, much of the attention on restoration of watershed function revolves around improving safety, minimizing property damage, and reducing the amount of time the community ball field is unusable due to flooding.

Equally critical is the need to prevent similar issues from happening in the other two sub-watersheds, particularly since conservation measures are more cost effective than restoration. The water quality of nearshore marine waters is also a concern, as both Water Bay and Smith Bay are considered “impaired” by DPNR due to elevated dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity levels as recorded by the ambient and beach monitoring program.

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