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Extension Service Implements Four-Year Wastewater Treatment Training Plan

The University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (CES) has initiated a planned four-year Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Dispersal Training and Licensing Program for Virgin Islanders. The CES collaborated in the effort with the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division of Environmental Protection, and the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority.

The actual training began on March 16, with 36 local participants. It was conducted by an organization known as the Water Quality Consortium, which includes the University of Rhode Island, Rutgers University, Cornell University, the University of Maine, the University of Massachusetts, the University of the Virgin Islands and the University of Puerto Rico.

Training began with a two-day Septic Inspector Training Class conducted by George Loomis and David Kalen, both from the University of Rhode Island's Onsite Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Center. Loomis is the center's director and Kalen the program manager. The center is one of eight such regional centers offering classroom and field training experience for wastewater professionals, regulators, municipal and state officials, watershed groups, and homeowners.

The class was designed to prepare attendees for an exam conducted March 19. Successful attendees with a minimum grade of 70 were qualified as registered inspectors for conventional onsite wastewater treatment systems that handle less than 2,000 gallons per day. Prior to taking the exam, attendees also participated in a train-the-trainer program, in which they received specialized training designed to prepare them to conduct future inspection training classes in the Virgin Islands.

Loomis and Kalen brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to this training session, according to CES Associate Director Kofi Boateng. Their major concern relates to surface and ground waters in the Virgin Islands, which are critical to the health and welfare of inhabitants, as well as the sustainability of the coral reefs. Through the sessions, they initiated a four-year plan, which will enable them to develop standards and licensing for onsite wastewater professionals serving individual dwelling units. Additionally, Loomis and Kalen hope to establish a knowledge baseline to enhance communication among professionals.

The four-year Virgin Islands plan has the following schedule:

  • Year I: March 2010 - Septic Inspection Training Class with follow-up train-the-trainer event. Attendees were taught basic septic system facts, which raised their knowledge levels in system inspection skills.
  • Year II: 2011 - Designer Training Class with follow-up train-the-trainer event. This session will establish basic knowledge level, and skills set needed for onsite wastewater system designers.
  • Year III: 2012 - Onsite Wastewater System Installers Training with follow-up train-the-trainer event. This session will establish basic knowledge level, and skills set needed for onsite wastewater system installers.
  • Year IV: 2013 - Operation and Maintenance Service Provider Training with follow-up train-the-trainer event. The training in this final phase is specifically geared toward those individuals who do system operation and routine maintenance, system adjustments and troubleshooting, performance evaluation and maximization, and monitor treatment performance of systems with flows less than 2,000 gallons per day.

For more information, please contact

Kofi Boateng at UVI's Cooperative Extension Service: kboateng@ubi.edu,

or (340) 692-4066, or Anita Nibbs at the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources: anita.nibbs@dpnr.gov.vi or (340) 772-1082.

Septic Inspection Training Class participants with George Loomis, inspecting septic systems at the V.I. Department of Agriculture.

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