The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $30,000 to the Vieques Historical and Conservation Trust to fund surveys of old and decaying septic systems in five neighborhoods in the island municipality.
The grant announced Monday was awarded under the EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which supports and empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues.
“EPA environmental justice grants provide much needed funds to tackle local pollution problems in low income communities,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator.
“The release of raw sewage from septic systems is a public health concern on Vieques. This work will educate residents of the harmful effects these systems can pose when not properly maintained,” she said.
The Vieques Historical and Conservation Trust will use the EPA funding to survey old failing septic systems that discharge raw sewage into the ocean near five waterfront neighborhoods on Vieques’ north coast. The goal of the project is to educate the citizens of Vieques about the pollution and health risks posed by these deteriorating septic tanks.
The Vieques Historical and Conservation Trust will collect data about the failing systems and will send a comprehensive report containing recommendations for improvement to local government officials to encourage them to invest in safer and efficient wastewater management.
The septic system surveys supported by this environmental justice grant complement efforts by the Vieques Historical and Conservation Trust to protect the island’s bioluminescent bay through its work on the Vieques Sustainability Task Force.
The task force, part of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico, was created to advance sustainable economic development and job creation projects in Vieques, as well as the Superfund cleanup on the island.