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Southern residents endure water outages

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High turbidity and a broken water pipe were the culprits for southern island residents to go without water over the weekend. Tropical Storm Goni may be gone, but with it came heavy rains, and as a result Guam Waterworks Authority crews are still working to address high turbidity and a broken water pipe at the Ugum Water Treatment Plant.   

GWA spokesperson Heidi Ballendorf said, "The plant this weekend was online it went offline was offline online again was offline, so we had a lot of back and forth with the plants because we have to meet the USEPA standards for safe drinking water."   

While an $11 million overhaul of the Ugum Water Treatment Plant was done to better treat the water, she says if there is too much soot, dirt, and rocks in the water the plant can't treat the water quick enough for customer use. The result is shutting down the plant - which was exactly what happened over the weekend. "We haven't had turbidity problems for the last two years," Ballendorf noted. "The last time I can actually recall was in 2013, so this have been a difficult time and I would like to apologize to our southern residents. They deserve to have water just like everybody in Guam."

She added, "However earlier today we have been able to produce water - this tank is a million gallons has about 15 feet in it or about 750,000 gallons worth of water."

But high turbidity was not the only problem. GWA had to tackle a broken pipe line, as well, with the spokesperson noting, "The challenge has been the size of the pipe there has been a couple of breaks on the pipe and the ground is so saturated with water so that is all made for a perfect storm of difficulty when fixing the water break."

The pipe is a critical part of the water system. According to Ballendorf it allows water to be transported from the plant to southern residents, saying, "We are working fast and furiously to get the plant up and running and hope the plant has all the pumps and working parts to continue servicing people of the south."

While the issue this weekend was a combination of high turbidity and a broken pipeline, she says they have had some difficulty with the Ugum plant and is hopeful that GWA will take a look at it at a higher level. She adds that in the future they do plan on increasing water capacity to a 2 million-gallon water tank.

Meanwhile, water should be restored to southern residents by 10pm this evening.

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