Feds say funding not a done deal
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - While the Guam Waterworks Authority prepares to go to the bond market next week, apparently hundreds of millions of dollars in Department of Defense funding isn't a done deal for GWA infrastructure.
The feds responded to the utility agency's most recent status report summarizing GWA's seven existing stipulated order violations that include its failure to assess drinking water supply tanks and the inability to hire a new general manager. The feds accuse GWA of misstating "important aspects regarding DoD's commitment to assist GWA in resolving its water and wastewater issues."
Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairman Simon Sanchez said, "I'm confused where the U.S. Department of Justice is coming from. They seem to ignore all the public statements, the published statements the media coverage as well as the work that USEPA has participated in and significant high level talks with the U.S. Department of Defense and GWA."
GWA and the CCU have been meeting with representatives from the USEPA and the DoD in the past months to discuss how to fund infrastructure improvements in preparation for the military buildup, especially upgrading the island's Northern and Hagatna Wastewater Treatment Plants. GWA has said that capital improvement funding will come at no cost to local ratepayers. However, the U.S. Government states "there has been no commitment by the united states, much less DoD, to be fully responsible for repayment of financing costs".
"USEPA has to stop being schizophrenic about this and start getting in the room and helping us," said Sanchez, adding that he thought both local and federal officials were on the same page. "It seems the Department of Justice has chosen to ignore all of that collective effort and this collective energy that has gone into the buildup effort and say that GWA should ignore it and shouldn't count on the buildup occurring because the Record of Decision doesn't contain specific appropriation language or specific financing."
Sanchez points out that Congress has not appropriated $4 billion for the Marines' relocation, either. He says the response submitted to the court by Attorney Robert Mullaney shows that there's either not enough communication with the us environmental protection agency or, as he noted, "Has their head stuck in the sand and isn't paying attention to what's really going on, on Guam."
"I think he grossly misrepresents what's about to happen on Guam," he added. "He doesn't understand what's going on in Guam. He's not talking to his client. He's not talking to the Department of Defense. He makes all these representations about what's going on with the buildup. He hasn't been to one meeting."
GWA will go to the bond market next week to borrow $118 million to finish the mandates of the stipulated order. They'll appear before the court for a status hearing on November 17.