GUAM LEAKING 800,000 GALLONS OF WATER A DAY, SCHOOLS CLOSED

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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (September 4, 2002 - Pacific Daily News)---Navy water lines leaking more than 800,000 gallons daily have resulted in school closures and drops in water service.

The Navy continues to try to find the source of the leaks, and could not say when regular water service will be restored.

The latest water problem began Saturday when a leak in a Navy water main forced it to cut off the water it supplies to Guam Waterworks Authority.

The Navy normally provides the islandwide water system with as much as 6.7 million gallons per day -- or roughly 18 percent of the 36 million gallons that flow through Guam's pipes, according to Pacific Daily News files.

But with low or no water pressure throughout the naval base, all water supplied to Waterworks was cut.

"We estimate that we are losing over 800,000 gallons a day, so we're continuing with the troubleshooting and making repairs as the problems are discovered, but there is no time line as to how long that will take," said Lt. Thurraya Kent, local Navy spokeswoman.

The lack of Navy water results in Waterworks not having enough pressure to move water to Guam consumers.

"Currently, there is no surplus water available for the Navy to augment GWA," Kent said.

Areas affected include Barrigada, Mongmong-Toto-Maite, parts of Sinajana and Agana Heights, parts of Hagåtña, Tamuning, hospital road, Jonestown, Perezville, Asan and Piti, according to GWA acting General Manager Gil Shinohara.

Boil water

Navy crews repaired one leak during the weekend but are looking for more because they are unsure if the loss of water is from a single leak or multiple leaks, Kent said.

She said the Navy is turning off water valves when required, emptying water lines and repairing any leaks found. Pipes are then repressurized by adding water to them.

Kent said once water service is restored, people who lost water are advised to boil tap water as a standard precautionary measure.

No tests have shown harmful bacteria has entered the system because of the leak, but boiling water is recommended until tests are completed, Kent said.

Most island residents have been on a boil-water notice because of harmful bacteria found consistently in the system since Typhoon Chata'an hit Guam July 5. Parts of southern Guam were dropped from that notice Aug. 2.

Schools closed

Four public schools will be closed today because of water pressure problems.

Department of Education Superintendent Rosie Tainatongo said Jose Rios Middle School, and J.Q. San Miguel, L.B.J. and Tamuning elementary schools will be closed today because there is no water at the schools.

Those four schools as well as P.C. Lujan Elementary were closed yesterday. Tainatongo said the education department will monitor the situation and hopes to know today when classes can resume.

Gloria Estampador, assistant principal at Jose Rios, said employees who were required to work yesterday had to go to the village mayor's office to use the restroom.

Estampador said classes at Jose Rios may not resume until Thursday or Friday. She did not know if makeup days would be scheduled but said students can come in Saturday for additional help.

Eighth-graders from Jose Rios who attend classes at Southern High School will continue to have classes because the high school has water, Tainatongo said.

Muddy water

Kwang Ho Kin, 43, owner of the Song Market in Mangilao, said he began having problems with water pressure at his store Saturday night and lost water service Sunday and Monday.

"When I turned the water on Monday, muddy water came out -- maybe about two buckets worth of muddy water -- but then it was clear," Kin said.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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