Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (June 17) – Guam legislative and administration officials are holding round-table discussions about exploring possible public-private partnerships for water and wastewater services. The Consolidated Commission on Utilities says it, once again, is looking at possible privatization options.

And while all of these elected officials continue to talk instead of taking needed action to get the water and waste water infrastructure fixed, residents in Barrigada suffer from what amounts to daily rationing of water service. On a regular basis, many of those who live in Barrigada have to cope with little to no water pressure - and they're not the only ones.

There are other areas of Guam where people have to do their laundry in the middle of the night, or collect slowly dripping tap water to do dishes or bathe. Many more collect rainwater, and others have installed water tanks to ensure some degree of acceptable water pressure and availability on a regular basis.

For the good of the entire island, elected officials can't afford to let these persistent water problems drag on.

Water is the lifeblood of any community. Residents and businesses need clean, safe water delivered with an acceptable level of pressure. It's an issue of public health and safety, but it's also an issue critical to our economy. The lack of action by Guam's elected officials to fix these problems is frustrating.

The government has had 50 years to practice operating and maintaining the island's water and wastewater infrastructure, and we continue to be unable to meet our community's basic needs. Guam's elected officials must take action that brings the water and wastewater systems up to par, and do it now.

Guam needs some form of a public-private concession plan -- there's no way around that. The plan would allow a private company to operate and manage the water and wastewater infrastructure, investing its money in capital improvement projects to upgrade and improve existing systems. The company would have to answer to the Public Utilities Commission where water rates are concerned.

And our community would not lose water rights. While the private company would distribute water, the people of Guam would retain all the water rights we currently have.

June 17, 2005

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