NEPA Investigating Discolouration Of Outram River In St. Mary

July 29, 2019

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is currently investigating the report of a ‘reddish-pink’ discolouration of the Outram River that runs through Port Maria in St Mary. A joint site visit was conducted by a team from NEPA, the St Mary Municipal Corporation and the St Mary Health Department on July 25, 2019. The team investigated the possible sources of the discolouration and completed ‘ground thruthing’ activities along the corridors of the river aimed at identifying possible anthropogenic (man-made) influences on the river.

Richard Nelson, Senior Manager, Environmental Management, NEPA explained that, “during the investigation it was noted that the mouth of the river was blocked off from the sea and that there was very little flow of water in the upper sections of the river’.

He added, “a ‘reddish-pink discolouration containing suspended matter was observed. This discoloration had a distinct odour of hydrogen sulphide. In addition, on-site water quality measurements were taken and samples collected and sent for laboratory analysis at two laboratories. Based on the on-site measurements, the strong odour of hydrogen sulphide and the ‘reddish-pink’ colouration of the water, the Agency’s tentative conclusion is that the discolouration is due to an algal bloom known as ‘red tide’.”

The Agency now awaits the outcome of the laboratory analysis from the NEPA and Centre for Marines Sciences, University of the West Indies. The Agency will also continue to work with the St Mary Municipal Corporation and the Water Resources Authority, should corrective measures based on the results of the analysis becomes necessary.


Photograph showing discolouration of the water on a section of the Outram River, Port Maria, St. Mary.