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By Lacee A.C. Martinez

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 13) - Water service slowly returned to thousands of residents and businesses in southern Guam yesterday as the Navy resumed distributing water from the Fena Reservoir to the Guam Waterworks Authority.

The Navy suspended its water supply from the Fena Reservoir to the water agency on Saturday after heavy rains caused heavy sediment buildup in the Fena Reservoir and slowed the water treatment process. Customers in Agat, Asan, Mongmong-Toto-Maite, Piti, Nimitz Hill and Santa Rita have felt the brunt of the water outage.

Navy officials, in a press release yesterday, said about 1,300 gallons of water per minute was being released as of the afternoon, allowing GWA to begin distribution to affected villages. Waterworks normally purchases 3,000 gallons per minute from the Fena Reservoir, totaling about 4 million gallons of water per day, said GWA spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf.

Before water flow can improve, pressure is needed to build up in the pipes, Ballendorf said. As of yesterday evening, residents in Agat were still unable to receive water from the Fena Reservoir and the water agency was still working to fill wells in Santa Rita.

The return of water from the Fena Reservoir was a huge relief to Jerry Guerrero, who said he hasn't had any water flowing through his faucets in Nimitz Hill since Saturday. Guerrero, who lives with his family, including his 94-year-old grandmother, would get most of his water from a water tanker in Nimitz Hill.

"At this point, there's no reason to keep pointing fingers at the problem," Guerrero said. "We just have to do what we have to do to get through it until they fix the situation."

Utility officials are working on a long-term plan to provide water for southern residents. The Fena Reservoir during the rainy season usually experiences problems with heavy sediment delaying or halting the water treatment process.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Simon Sanchez said the water agency is in the planning stages of major changes to water distribution in southern villages, with three major projects aimed at making GWA independent from the Navy.

The plan does not call for ending the relationship with the Navy, Sanchez said, and instead will look to the Fena Reservoir for backup.

In the next few weeks, there will be groundbreaking for the projects in the Santa Rita Springs, allowing water to be stored in tanks. It will take three to six months to complete the project before the end of the year, he said.

A project that will allow more water to flow from the Ugum Reservoir is expected to start before the end of the year, Sanchez said, adding GWA is currently securing bids for the Ugum project and the Fena bypass project.

July 14, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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