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Inside GWA's new Master Plan

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 3:28 PM Updated:

The Guam Waterworks Authority plans to spend $1.2 billion to upgrade the water and sewer system. That will mean an increase over time in monthly utility bills, but the CCU says it will also result in much improved service, and enough capacity to meet future demand.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Joey Duenas says the new 20-year plan is actually an extension of a $900-million 2008 plan. "30% of those projects are done, 40% are on the way to being done, 15% were just getting off the ground, and remember it's a 20-year plan but we're ahead of the game. We're only spending $600 million to finish all these things," he explained.

Another 15-percent of projects weren't needed because they found other less costly ways to get them done.  Duenas says most of the previous plan was to meet EPA compliance. But in the new plan, they can also focus on more localized problems, like family subdivisions that have outgrown their infrastructure.

"First house went in, great, great water pressure.  By the time the twentieth house was built on the subdivided piece of property, no more water pressure. People want that to improve, and in order to improve those things that are not compliance issues, but to fix pressure problems, we have to do those improvements. That's all included in this plan," he added.

There will be a cost. Water and sewer bills will go up an average of 3-4% a year, and by 2038 consumers at the lower end can expect to pay about a $100 a month. But Duenas argues that it was only a matter of time.  Guam's system was hastily built by the military after the war, and improvements and maintenance to the antiquated system were haphazard at best.

"Do you remember when we used to have boil water notices? do you remember when we were polluting our oceans and we said don't fish in this area? I mean that's the trade-off. You want a good water system, and to get a good water system you have to spend money," he said.

And he says, they will conduct a public information campaign to take questions and comment on what lies ahead, with Duenas adding, "These plans don't gather dust. We implement them. We want the people to know. Because one of the things that's important is for them to understand the improvement this will mean to them."

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