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published on 07/04/2008

SEA Currents

Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance

Three Cheers for LUCELEC!
Three cheers for three years of funding from LUCELEC to support the amazing work of St Lucian students to protect and improve St Lucia’s water. After our rainforest camp last summer, students from ommunities all around St. Lucia have been the energy and enthusiasm behind community solid waste cleanup, protection of Marigot Bay and reducing the waste going to the sea in Vieux Fort and Soufriere. LUCELEC wanted to sustain the student efforts so they can be partners in stewardship of the environment. LUCELEC’s Corporate Communications Manager, Roger Joseph, says the donation is consistent with LUCELEC’s mission, part of which is to be a catalyst for social and economic development in St. Lucia. In fact, he added, one of areas in which the Company measures its performance is in the promotion of environmental stewardship. LUCELEC helped initiate this project 4 years ago with Ciceron Secondary School which helped leverage funding from NOAA and St. Lucia Sustainable
Development and Environment Unit. We are also collaborating with the SMMA and Mabouya Valley IWCAM Project. It takes us all working together to create a sustainable initiative for the children!

The students who traveled to Dominica over spring break not only learned about Dominica’s amazing biodiversity on land and under the sea, they completed service projects for Springfield Estate. The Tennessee students were happy to be joined by Florida student, Dwight McCain! The students provided goodies and hosted an Easter Egg hunt for children in the village and then constructed a composting bin out of bamboo,thanks to the design work of Bob Blenker and excellent machete work of Jake Garland. The composting bin is 6 compartments so the materials can be transferred to the next bin once a week and then in 6 weeks they have Compost! They also added to the butterfly and hummingbird gardens created by the NDHS students who got the project started last year. Springfield Estate says Dwight and the NDHS students are AWESOME!

Five US Rotary Clubs partner with Dominica Rotary!
Rotary International has awarded our partner Rotary Clubs, led by the Conyers, GA Rotarian Barbara McCarthy, a matching grant to fund a public toilet facility and constructed wetland for wastewater treatment in Soufriere, Dominica. Local Rotarians in Dominica,Gloria Tavernier and DOMLEC’s Joel Huggins, spearheaded the partnership efforts in Dominica. This partnership has already been nominated for an award due to the collaboration of 5 US Rotary Clubs (3 in Georgia and 2 in Tennessee) with the Dominica Rotary Club. We have been working with Ian Pinard, Parliamentary Representative from Soufriere Village and they were so excited for the possibility of the public toilet which has been needed for many years, especially since the initiation of Dive Fest Kubuli Boat Races in Soufriere. Dominican Rotarian Bobby Frederick remarked that they will make sure this is a model project so no facilities will discharge the waste into the street drains and our water!

Aqualectra Helps Prepare Teachers for New Curriculum Focus in Curaçao
For 3 years we have helped Banda Bou teachers learn about coral reefs and taking care of the sea through environmental education methods. Aqualectra supports our project by providing funding to bring experts to Curacao to help the teachers since the entire school curriculum is being converted to a problem based focus. The Banda Bou teachers then use their training in their own schools as well as the field trip to the sea provided by our partner Lee’s Reef Project. The field trip lessons are now devised by the teachers who have been through training and the visitors to Sunset Waters Beach Resort who observe the kids and teachers in action are entranced by what they see. SWBR has received excellent press because of our efforts, not only locally, but internationally by Bloomberg Magazine and Caribbean Travel and Life.

Engineers with out Borders cosponsoring Jamaica project
Thanks to the hard work of SEA volunteer, Sheila Carman, the Atlanta chapter of Engineers Without Borders is now fund raising to provide a road to Naylor’s Hill in the Port Antonio area of Jamaica, and then work on providing some sewage treatment for the village. The community of Naylor’s Hill is solated since it has no access road. EWB is an all volunteer group and this is the first project for the Atlanta Professional Chapter. EWB groups typically work with a community for 5 years or more.

Curaçao Wastewater Garden cleaning the water at Sunset Waters Beach Resort!
Thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and support from Sunset Waters Beach Resort, the wastewater wetland in Banda Bou, Curacao is working! Designed by Tennessee Valley Authority scientist, Dr. Les Behrends and constructed by local contractor, Ton Kros, it is an above ground structure due to the bedrock being so near the surface of the ground. The wetland takes the wastewater from the resort and cleans it, producing water that is “crystal clear and has no smell, “ according to the resort’s General Manager, Leonard de Windt. The microorganisms around the rock layers provide most of the water treatment and the plants on top remove some of the remaining nutrients. The students have been the managers of the planting of the wetland and also monitoring its effectiveness. The teachers report that even their most troublesome student is enthused and engaged by their work on the wetland. Thus far, the resort is cleaning more water than they can use,
so are already recouping their investment by selling it to other resorts and farmers who are happy to pay less money for watering the plants! The Ministry of Health and Environment will be holding a sustainable development conference in October focusing on the wastewater wetland and the impact on the reef health as well as sustainable tourism.

Caribbean SEA is becoming St. Lucian!
Well, perhaps Dual Citizenship! Caribbean SEA’s Board of Directors decided that an important goal for us is to become registered as a non profit in St Lucia, where our work first began. Through the assistance of
Nigel Hosein, our Board Member from Carilec, we are in the middle of completing the application and sending the request to the Attorney General for approval. What does this mean for Caribbean SEA? The best thing is that we will now be registered to do business in the place where most of our business occurs, which means we are a local organization, open for local and European Union funding. The UN Global Environment Fund would like to help fund some of our work, but we must complete our registration process first! In addition, we will also have a local board of advisors in St Lucia. The St Lucian organization will be a subsidiary of our US non profit, which also lends credibility to our work. This is a big step forward for our organization and we are ready to take this leap! The kids are, too, since they would love to continue to the good work they are doing. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Mary Beth Sutton, Executive Director

Carnival Cruise Lines to help us teach kids in St Lucia and Dominica
Thanks to our Board member, Mark Curran, we are now working with Carnival Cruise Lines to provide instruction on advanced water, wastewater, and solid waste treatment that they utilize on board the cruise ships. The students from our programs in St Lucia and Dominica are piloting this project and will receive a tour and instruction on board the cruise ship. Thanks to Carnival for giving back to the communities where they visit!

What do we do now?
When last summer’s hurricane hit St Lucia, we lost our
gel growth plates for determining the amount of bacteria in the water where the kids are working. During our most recent visit, Sonia from the Soufriere Marine Management Area, Peace Corps Volunteers Justin and Dallase and students in all of the villages helped us with a whirlwind bacteria sampling tour of the southern part of St Lucia. Starting in Marigot Bay early in the morning, we finally returned there after 8 that evening. Whew! The plates then had to be poured and placed in a warm area for 24 hours before we could count the numbers. We are using a newer enumeration method called Coliscan which is now approved by the US EPA, but had not been used in St Lucia as yet. The numbers we found all around the island were disconcerting. We knew there was E. coli in the waters, but we didn’t realize the extent of the pollution. We did get good news in Soufriere, where the spring was clear of bacteria and also in Dennery, where we found that where the kids play in the sea is cleaner than most areas. We have requested some guidance from the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute and will add public health issues to our watershed camp this summer…...but what do we DO now?

Thanks to the Peace Corps Volunteers!
Our projects in St Lucia have made even bigger strides, thanks to the Peace Corps Volunteers who are working in community development in villages all around St. Lucia. We meet people through other people, and the beginning of this partnership began no differently! Crispin D’Auvergne, head of the Sustainable Development and Environment Unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs suggested we contact Dallase Scott, a volunteer in Dennery. From Dallase, we connected with other volunteers and brought them through training last summer with teachers at Balenbouche. They are now the mainstays of our watershed camp for St Lucian kids, doing everything from teaching water monitoring and helping with swimming, to showing how to cook marshmallows and make s’mores! Starr is leader of the group in Marigot! Justin Williams, stationed in Forestiere, joined us for our around the island bacterial sampling tour and now is an integral part of our work. We really appreciate all of the fabulous Peace Corps volunteers!

Save the Date!!!
PARROTS of the CARIBBEAN Party at World’s End
with the River City Parrotheads! September 13, 2008, Island Cove Marina Featuring KD Moore and Greg “Fingers” Taylor, (original member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band!) and Jeff Pike and A1A from Atlanta.

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