GUAM RESORT FORCED TO HAUL ITS WATER

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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Mar. 15) - Baba Corp. Vice President Hideharu "Bo" Baba said the company has bought a $20,000 water tank to supply its Coco Palm Garden Beach resort with water and has halted negotiations with the Guam Waterworks Authority.

Water to the then-unfinished resort and other Urunao properties was disconnected last year when GWA General Manager David Craddick discovered a water connection in the area that had not been paid for by property owners, who were not being charged for the water they were using.

Craddick said the area's pipes, installed under former Gov. Carl Gutierrez's administration, should have never been put in because the estimated $507,000 cost was borne by the water agency, and the pipes don't have a federal permit to cut through federal land.

Baba Corp. has instead taken it upon itself to bring water to its resort, despite the cost and inconveniences of doing so.

Baba said when the company first agreed to develop the floral garden resort more than two years ago, landowner Tony Artero Sablan told them that a road would be built and water infrastructure would be put in place.

Sablan has said Gutierrez and then-GWA General Manager Bert Johnston told him the government would put in the lines, but that it did not have enough money to do the roadwork. Sablan's family spent $75,000 to bulldoze a road in either late 2000 or 2001 to create an easement and turn the road over to the government of Guam -- by which time Gutierrez had already acquired land in the area.

Sablan's family then agreed to purchase about $3,000 worth of pipe fittings for the water agency so they could get water to properties in Urunao.

Craddick said whatever deals that were made then are irrelevant, and the water agency should not have spent more than half a million dollars to put water pipes in an undeveloped area. GWA rules stipulate that if water service is desired in an undeveloped area, it is up to the developers to pay for the cost of the infrastructure -- no matter if it's on a public road or what deals were previously made.

Craddick said the water agency will need to be reimbursed for the cost of the pipes that have been laid and the remaining 5,000 feet of pipe that needs to be laid to distribute water to the Urunao properties.

Craddick said the water agency has offered to compromise with the company, in that Baba Corp. would only be charged a prorated amount of the $507,000 project cost. The company would be charged an amount for the square footage of its property and the road footage of the property to figure out the amount it owes for the cost of the project.

He also said a master water meter would need to be stalled at Potts Junction and the resort would be responsible for paying for any leaks between the meter and the resort. The path of those pipes on Route 3 is about four miles.

Craddick has said the water line that was put in is inadequate and needs to be replaced.

Baba said the company has not been able to find a compromise with the water agency on this issue and has now purchased the $20,000 water tank along with two other water tankers to supply the resort.

Baba said the tankers haul about 500 gallons of water and require about four trips per day to fill the tank based on the resort's needs.

"We've kind of given up for the time being because they are not willing to negotiate on part of their offer," he said. "They are pretty determined to recover that half a million (dollars) from the landowners from the cost of the infrastructure. ... So we're studying other options for the time being."

Baba said the company is exploring digging its own water wells. Craddick said the water agency would have no problem with that so long as the well is on the resort's property. If it isn't, the company would have to pay the water agency for use of the pipes to get the water from the well to the property.

March 15, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

 

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