Governor Albert Bryan Jr. Announces Positive Results from EPA Sequential Water Testing on St. Croix

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. shared reassuring news from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent sequential water testing on St. Croix today. The comprehensive analysis indicates that concerns over widespread elevated levels of lead and copper in the water system may be unfounded. This finding aligns with initial assessments by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and the Water and Power Authority (WAPA), suggesting anomalies in earlier data.

To find the source of lead and copper in the water system in those areas identified in St. Croix, EPA, in conjunction with WAPA and DPNR, conducted sequential testing in early November utilizing the agency’s standard protocol. The results, which the EPA shared with the Virgin Islands Government Wednesday evening, indicated that all tested sites overwhelmingly reported levels of lead and copper well below the actionable levels, and many areas were non-detectable. 

While some areas on St. Croix continue to experience water quality issues, primarily discolored water due to aging and deteriorating ductile iron pipes, the EPA’s initial elevated readings of lead and copper are now understood to be largely due to deviations from standard testing protocols. The initial sampling protocol, which focused on sampling at the meter rather than the tap to evaluate and assess the red and brown water, potentially introduced other contaminants into the sampled water.

The initial EPA findings reported on October 13 contradicted successful tests by WAPA in September conducted under EPA protocols, which required testing for lead and copper at the tap. In response, Governor Bryan took proactive action to safeguard public health, including issuing a no-drink advisory, declaring a local state of emergency, and requesting federal emergency support from President Joe Biden. Measures also included lead exposure testing for school-aged children and distributing drinking water vouchers to residents in affected areas.

“The well-being of our community is paramount. While these results are encouraging, our work continues. We are actively collaborating with FEMA and other federal partners to refine testing protocols and ensure accurate assessments moving forward,” Governor Bryan said.

The administration is also assisting WAPA in accelerating efforts to replace the outdated ductile iron pipes, which cause water discoloration issues, and make improvements in its corrosion control technology. These infrastructure and technology improvements are crucial for providing reliable and safe water services to the residents of St. Croix.

“We remain steadfast in our resolve to address these challenges,” Governor Bryan stated. “The health and safety of our people are our top priorities, and we are committed to ensuring the highest water quality standards are met for all our residents.”