USEPA lists numerous deficiencies with GWA - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

USEPA lists numerous deficiencies with GWA

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Already under a stipulated order with the feds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a letter to the Guam Waterworks Authority to cleanup its act. "There's been constant attention focused on GWA," notes Simon Sanchez.

It was in 2002 when the feds took GWA to court for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. A decade later and over a billion dollars worth of investment to turn things around and the USEPA has identified several deficiencies with the agency's drinking water supply systems. The USEPA conducted an inspection back in May and today wrote a letter to GWA, listing-off what they found such as a pattern of poor maintenance that could lead to further deterioration eventually impacting water quality.  

Sanchez, the chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, told KUAM News, "When they say some of our maintenance issues remain challenges for us, that concerns me. They have concerns about Ugum and that's essential a brand new plant and just yesterday we lost it."

According to the inspection report, USEPA inspectors found a lack of routine maintenance, many wells are located in close proximity to potential sources of fecal and other sources of contamination, and no well head protection plan is in place for GWA wells.   The report goes on to state that some wells have cracks and other openings in the well pads, casings and improperly sealed sanitary seals leaving a direct opening for contamination to enter wells.  Inspectors found a lack of operation and maintenance at Ugum and at the Santa Rita Springs Plant.

At least one well did not have a chlorination system in place. The USEPA also found bolts that had been completely rusted through, which compromises structural stability of tanks, inadequate site security, leaking tanks, and no formal or comprehensive training program for operators and other personnel. The USEPA noted over 40 deficiencies, of which Sanchez said, "We have our work cut out. There's some things that disappoint me in terms of some things I thought we had resolved appear to me that we haven't resolved them."

Sanchez added that with over a billion dollars worth of improvements on the horizon, its money he does not want to see go down the drain. "If we're going to spend a billion dollars in the next five to ten, twenty years on GWA, then the responsibility of GWA is to maintain the equipment and sustain the equipment because people of Guam don't want to be throwing a billion dollars to GWA every ten to twenty years. These things should last thirty to zero years. so to me it's a reminder from USEPA that we have much work to do."

GWA has 45 days to turn to explain to the USEPA what it plans to do to address the deficiencies. In the meantime, Sanchez as well as the feds assure the community that the water is still safe to drink.

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