Bill seeks to help farmers get water to their farmlands

Senator Clynt Ridgell (35th Guam Legislature photo)

Senator Clynt Ridgell has introduced Bill No. 394-35 (LS) which will allow residents who wish to use their property for agriculture and aquaculture activities to pay GWA’s system development charge over time.

“Some people have reached out to me and said they would like to farm their property, but the up-front cost of the system development charge for water is too expensive. I personally believe that if we really want to encourage an agricultural industry then there should be no system development charge for agriculture; however, GWA believes these charges are necessary. So, I have introduced this bill to allow a way for farmers to make incremental payments for the system development charge. This way, farmers can bring water into their land without having to pay the entire system development charge upfront and can begin to farm their land and begin to make money while they make monthly payments,” said Senator Ridgell.

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Currently, anyone who needs a new connection to the GWA system has to pay what’s known as a System Development Charge. This charge can be costly and is a deterrent for many people who want to farm their land.

Current law allows Guam Waterworks Authority to offer an amortized SDC to residents constructing or purchasing a single-family dwelling to serve as a primary residence for the applicant and immediate family members if they meet certain qualifications. This allows residents to make an initial payment followed by monthly payments, with interest.

Bill No. 394-35 (LS) will expand this by offering residents an Amortized System Development Charge if they wish to conduct agriculture or aquaculture activities on their property.

Having to pay thousands of dollars for the System Development Charge upfront adds another financial burden and potential roadblock to residents who wish to use their land for agricultural or aquacultural purposes. Allowing residents to amortize those charges may ease the process and promote sustainability on an island that is heavily dependent on outside sources for many of our consumables, including produce and fish.

“The development of a local agricultural industry not only diversifies our economy, but it also keeps more money on island and keeps that money circulating within our economy,” said Senator Ridgell.

(Senator Clynt Ridgell News Release)