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Feds find storm water source of pollution

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - The rainy season just may be the worst season for water quality on Guam, according findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Storm water, which is the runoff from developed areas in Guam, is a very important contributor to water pollution problems in your bays and rivers," explained David Smith.

Smith, who manages the Clean Water Permitting Office based in San Francisco, California, says they are now enforcing stricter policies pertaining to storm water. "As a result, we're gong to require the dischargers of municipal storm water to apply for and receiver permits from us to control the quality of storm water that's discharged into your rivers, bays and your marine areas."

Dr. Charles Lou, assistant professor at the University of Guam's Water and Environmental Research Institute, says 80 percent of the island's water comes from the northern aquifer and rain water can wash pollutants from trash into the ground. Hence, potentially contaminating this valuable water resource. He said, "For Northern Guam, the pollution is mainly from household garbage."

While the upper part of the island gets most of its water supply from the Northern Aquifer. Dr. Lou says the southern end's main source of water comes from watersheds, 3 percent of which do not have sufficient foliage coverage. Lou says this can also contribute to water pollution, adding, "So when the rain falls down the rain falls and washes out the soil into the water."

However, Lou says projects conducted by UOG graduate students have shown pollution of drinking water in Northern Guam is not very severe. "That means currently the pollution to drinking water is not harmful," he added. But, he says, the new requirements by the USEPA certainly couldn't hurt. "I'm not quite sure about Guam really needs that. But actually it's good to the health to the public, I think, if we do that."

According to Smith, the new policy will help protect the health of the public and the environment. "At EPA, we have the authority to require permits to control pollutants in the discharges of urban storm water," he added.

The USEPA maintains these new requirements will also help protect the island's future saying as the island embarks on an ambitious military development process, these storm water permits will help ensure that new buildings and roads are designed to protect the island's unique coastal waters and groundwater.

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