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JGPO meets with mayors

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The military continues their public relations effort in ensuring the community is informed about the latest surrounding the buildup.  Joint Guam Program Office Forward Director John Jackson met with village mayors today to provide a progress report.

Armed with questions and concerns village mayors fired away, up first questions surrounding the military's proposed need for more land for the buildup, for example ancestral and private land in the Finegayan area for housing and Chamorro Land Trust property and private land in the Yigo area for training ranges. JGPO Forward Director John Jackson said, "What we've said all along is that we're not going to take anybody's land; any land that we may need would go through a negotiated process."

Jackson confirmed there are no negotiations currently underway and it's not expected to take place until late 2011 or early 2012. Mayors like Robert Lizama from Yigo, asked if they can be more involved with the process, saying, "Now that we're getting close to this , final EIS comes in July, we'd like to be kept in the loop or at least observers we as leaders in our district.  We can say hang on governor or hang on the director of the CLTC or Ancestral [Lands Commission], and that's where the problem is."

He added, "We can't dictate to GovGuam who should be sitting on their side can we make a recommendation certainly, mayors in affected areas would be one of those voices that can be heard from the other side.  But again, we won't even know who the governor is until November."

In terms of infrastructure Sinajana Mayor Roque Blas was assured that there is a team effort on behalf of GovGuam and the Navy in terms of addressing both the island's water and wastewater issues. Jackson referencing as an example the recent tour of President Barrack Obama's righthand woman on the environment, Nancy Sutley, of the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The feds are requiring the Government of Guam to upgrade its waste water treatment facilities to secondary treatment, but that comes with a price tag of $300 million.

"So there is a realized in Washington that ratepayers can't absorb that kind of an increase - there's just no way," he said.

This same collaboration pours over to the fresh water side, as Jackson says GovGuam and the military have been working to determine the placement of 12 wells as well as 22 additional wells to tap into the northern aquifer, which according to Jackson has an estimated 300 billion gallons of water sitting there, with multiple lens comprising the aquifer tests will be conducted to determine the suitable sites where water can be pumped.

"So the situation we have today is there's some wells pumping perhaps even over pumping in a particular lens and the lens next to its not being touched that's the purpose of a lot of those test drills to see the locations where we can alleviate problems of running out of water low water pressure in certain areas, etc." he said.

Those tests are expected to begin sometime next year.

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