Caribbean
Sargassum seaweed invades the beach area at Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham in Smith Bay, St. Thomas. Daily News file photo

CARIB - CZM OK's step in sargassum fight

Sargassum continues to be a problem for hotels on St. Thomas, including Margaritaville Vacation Club.

At a St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee meeting Wednesday, committee members approved a request from Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham to extend their reverse osmosis intake line, beyond the edge of their dock, to prevent sargassum from impacting the system.

The system creates potable water for the resort by taking seawater and running it through a reverse osmosis process.

Amy Dempsey, president of Bioimpact, said the 12-1/2 foot extension will allow the system to pull water in from beyond the sargassum impacted area while not impacting seagrass.

Dempsey cited that The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas intake line in Great Bay, which has also experiences had sargassum troubles, has had success with an extention.

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Read also Scientists come closer to solving Caribbean seaweed mystery  Reuters UK

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The committees conversation quickly turned toward the wider impact sargassum has at the resort, as it prevents visitors from being able to swim, and the stench of the rotting seaweed often affects neighbors.

Waste Management disposes of some of the sargassum that ends up on the shore, but Scott Ramsey, an engineer with the resort, said that a portion of the plant matter is dried in an open area on the property.

“When left outside, it rots, and you have quite a bit of white, usable sand. We can take it back down to the beach, but we haven’t brought it down due to expected storms,” Ramsey said.

Margaritaville spends around $50,000 a month to remove sargassum, while The Ritz-Carlton spends mote than $500,000 a year, as the club removes five to six 40-yard bins of sargassum in a day, according to Dempsey’s estimates.

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