The Coral Bay Community Council, located in Coral Bay on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, has long led island-wide efforts to reduce the harmful effects of runoff causing erosion in to the pristinely beautiful bays and inlets of the island. In 2016 they approached Watershed Consulting to create a manual for St. John homeowners titled ‘Slope Stabilization and Erosion Control using Vegetation on Dry Forested Hillsides in the Virgin Islands.’
St. John is a beautiful rugged Caribbean island but recent development on the steep, erodible hillsides surrounding many of its bays has resulted in larger amounts of sediment-laden runoff cascading down local ‘guts’ (intermittent waterways) and fouling the blue waters with brown sediment plumes. Watershed Consulting, in close partnership with the CBCC, developed a simple illustrated manual with clear guidelines for homeowners on vegetative practices they could easily implement to curb runoff. The manual:
- Outlines the use and applicability of ‘the vetiver system,’ a method of using a non-native, non-invasive species of deep-rooted perennial grass to hold soil and stop erosion.
- Created novel, St. John-specific practices such as palm frond brush mats and conch shell check dams to make use of locally available materials while controlling stormwater runoff.
- Presented the manual material to local engineers, landscapers, and officials from the Department of Protection of Natural Resources (DPNR).
Elements of this manual have been used for implementation projects in Puerto Rico and Watershed is actively working the Coral Bay Community Council to find and develop a site on St. John for implementation of these practices.