Complaint’s commissioner remains mum
A long-time member of the Cayman Islands Water Authority board of directors has resigned his position on that organisation citing ‘other commitments.’
Water Authority Director Gelia Frederick-van Genderen said late Wednesday that Joseph Ebanks had submitted his resignation. Mr. Ebanks is also the acting managing director and the chief operating officer of Boatswain’s Beach (formerly the Cayman Turtle Farm).
Minister of Works and Infrastructure Arden McLean, who has responsibility for the Water Authority, confirmed that Mr. Ebanks had resigned from the board.
Mr. Ebanks’ decision to leave the Water Authority Board comes soon after the release to the Legislative Assembly of a critical report about Boatswain’s Beach concerning its alleged failure to safely discharge effluent from its West Bay facility.
Effluent includes all discharges from a property, liquid or solid, which flow into the ocean.
The report from the Office of the Complaints Commissioner has not been tabled in the LA, and so has not been released to the public. However, Complaints Commissioner John Epp has previously said that his review would encompass a potential conflict of interests involving Mr. Ebanks’ position at Boatswain’s Beach and his membership on the Water Authority board.
Statements made by Mr. Epp in December intimated that Mr. Ebanks was in a position to potentially influence the Water Authority board’s decisions regarding Boatswain’s Beach licensing requirements.
The issue of whether the Turtle Farm operation would be given licence to discharge effluent into offshore waters was reported by the Caymanian Compass in November 2006, as the facility was preparing to open a major expansion which included two swimming lagoons.
At the time, former Managing Director Ken Hydes said an anti-degradation study was being done so a marine discharge licence could be approved. Mr. Hydes also said that the permit had to be granted before any fish were added to the salt water lagoon — a feature which opened 24 February, 2007.
According to Mr. Epp, a partial anti-degradation study was done but he said, based on information the OCC obtained from the Water Authority, that study was so incomplete it lacked any significant value.
Mr. Ebanks was named chief operating officer of the Turtle Farm in January 2007, and took over as managing director when Mr. Hydes resigned last fall.
Mr. Epp said it was obvious problems with the effluent discharge licence started before Mr. Ebanks was named chief operating officer. However, he noted that shortly after Mr. Ebanks was given the position, the tourist attraction was allowed to put fish in its saltwater lagoon attraction…with no evidence that a discharge licence had been granted.
Mr. Epp declined to comment on any recommendations contained in his report since it had not been tabled in the LA.