The bio-retention pond recently installed along Kingshill Road, above, was tested by more than a foot of rain from TS Otto, but held up well according to officials.
Although Coral Bay still turned brown with runoff during from Tropical Storm Otto early this month, there was actually less sediment dumping into the bay thanks to a new bio-retention pond on Kingshill Road.
The pond is the first of 18 projects the Coral Bay Community Council is implementing as part of its share of a major grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The V.I. Resources Conservation and Development Council, in partnership with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, CBCC, Estate Fish Bay Homeowners Association, The Nature Conservancy and University of the Virgin Islands, received a $2.8 million grant earlier this year from NOAA as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The grant is funding a number of projects on both St. John and St. Croix, including extensive road work in Estate Fish Bay and East End Bay on the big island.
In the Coral Bay area, CBCC has 18 projects planned, all of which are designed to stem the tide of storm water runoff.
The Kingshill Road bio-retention pond is the first of those projects to make significant headway. The pond is located on a one-third acre property which was donated by the Egbert Marsh Trust and results have already been obvious.
The first step was removing a knee wall which had previously diverted run off from Gerda Marsh Hill down Kingshill Road and directly into Coral Bay. Now that wall is gone and the runoff flows into the pond, where it percolates into the soil and eventually continues down the gut with far less sediment than before.
The pond is circled by gabion baskets, followed by an earth berm and finally a brush berm. An overflow channel in the back of the pond directs water back into the gut in the valley, which was evident during the recent heavy rain event.
The project was contracted to Sunny Rock Construction to the tune of $66,000, and while officials hoped to be further along before the deluge from TS Otto, the pond held up well, according to the contractor.
“We would have liked to be further along before the rain, but the pond held up great,” said Steve Hendren, Sunny Rock owner.
The pond is being landscaped by Rosalee Gage of Love City Garden Center and will have a “natural feel” when complete, according to CBCC president Sharon Coldren.
The project was designed by former CBCC storm water engineer Joe Mina, and is being overseen by current CBCC storm water engineer Chris Laude.
“During normal rains, all of the water will be contained in the pond,” said Laude. “Water will percolate into the soil and the sediment will effectively be removed.”
The entire project has taken only a few months and was relatively inexpensive. In order to make a bigger impact on reducing the amount of storm water runoff, officials plan to construct at least one additional bio-retention pond in the Coral Bay valley.
CBCC has also broken ground on several other projects under VIRCD’s NOAA grant for USVI Coastal Habitat Restoration through Watershed Stabilization project including work in Calabash Boom, Hansen Bay and Johnny Horn Trail.
Keep an eye out in future Tradewinds for more stories on these and other NOAA grant projects.