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Much work needed to prep water systems

by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Guam Waterworks Authority says a lot of work needs to be done to upgrade systems in order to accommodate the marine buildup on island. With water issues mounting up in the last several weeks, GWA is hoping to receive money from the feds to help with upgrades.

With the island set to receive thousands of people as a result of the Marine relocation from Okinawa to Guam, the utility agency is hoping it could accommodate the increase in population by 2014. GWA Spokesperson Heidi Ballendorf says at this point, the Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific, and the U.S. Geological Survey have been conducting tests on the aquifer - and according to these studies there is enough water to go around.

"Right now GWA is permitted to pump up 37 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer," Ballendorf said.  "We can go as high as 40 million gallons; that's our limit for us right now. With the proper wells put in place, we've been told that it could double."

Ballendorf says in fact, the aquifer can produce up to 80 million gallons of water a day - that's if they have the systems in place.  "What we don't have is a good distribution system," she added.  "That's what we don't have. We are going to need the military partners to step up and start writing some checks for our tanks, the distribution system, wells, we talked about how many wells they need. All of that has to be sorted out at a much higher pay grade than me, but there's effort to work on that."

GWA has been faced with a number of issues in the last several weeks, from the shut down of the Ugum Water Treatment Plant, issues with valves in the central villages and a dry spell that hasn't allowed the systems to provide adequate water supply. But with the increase in population set to occur come time for the military buildup, Ballendorf says the current system can't handle the significant increase.

"It can handle the regular, normal growth that we get and I think we all know it's not going to be 2014, so all think all those plans need to be properly worked out and I'm believing that we'll be able to give water as our chairman would say, inside and outside the base," she said.

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