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First step in meeting projected population growth

By Jennifer Naylor Gesick and Zita Taitano HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, July 19, 2010) – The Department of the Navy will soon initiate a study that will be the basis for water system improvements to enable the Guam Waterworks Authority to meet the needs of a population growth related to the military buildup.

The study, which will begin this month, is expected to be completed by November, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s status report on GWA’s compliance with court stipulations.

"This study will provide a basis for the design of cost-effective, interim improvements that could be quickly implemented by GWA to accommodate an increase in wastewater flows from temporary workers and other proposed military build-up related growth," EPA stated in the report submitted to federal court on Friday.

Last Friday, the Consolidated Commission on Utilities signed a memorandum of understanding with the Navy, which committed the federal government to fund Guam’s utility projects related to the military buildup.

Navy Rear Admiral William Bushong said the agreement calls for a collaboration between the military and the civilian communities.

CCU chairman Simon Sanchez said that under the agreement, the federal government will use funds from Japan to cover the cost of utility projects.

Captain Paul Lynch, commander of Naval Facilities Guam, said the federal government will tap the $740 million fund earmarked by the Japanese government for utilities infrastructure improvements.

It was not clear, however, if the water projects will be built on-base or off-base.

"I think at the time it was drafted, they didn’t really know how utilities were going to be solved," Lynch said.

There were plans to build a new power facility, but these fell through, Lynch said.

"Economics showed that was not the most feasible way to do it and we’ve been working with the government of Japan to explain to them that it’s more economically feasible and better for the total Guam solution to do the renovation of existing infrastructure rather than building something new that would cost more," said Lynch.

In federal court, meanwhile, EPA said its status report was prepared in the context of the military buildup on Guam.

EPA said they intend to continue to work closely with DoD to ensure that any future settlement agreement with GWA takes into account the requirements of the proposed military build-up. "GWA and EPA view the military build-up as a potential opportunity to assist GWA in bringing its wastewater and drinking water systems into full compliance with federal law," stated the attorneys for the U.S. in the report.

The status report stated that the Navy’s twin goals for the new study are to identify interim measures that would allow GWA to treat up to 9 million gallons per day of wastewater flows to meet primary treatment standards and to have GWA implement these measures by September 2011.

EPA believes that GWA has very limited or no capacity to provide additional drinking water at this time and that it lacks transmission capacity to transport drinking water even if it were available.

At Friday’s signing of an agreement between Guam and the Navy, CCU chairman Simon Sanchez said the plan also involves the water integration system and customer service agreement similar to the government’s arrangement between the military and the Guam Power Authority.

"We’re going to pursue opportunities on how we can merge our existing systems and the new systems from the buildup to ensure that we have enough water for everyone and that it remains clean and safe to drink and that the quality of service of the military and civilian customer is no different," he said.

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