Duenas: Borrowing necessary to improve water system

CCU Chairman Joey Duenas said that in the next 5 years, they are going to put in a billion dollars into the infrastructure of GWA. (PNC photo)

Guam – With more capital improvement projects in the pipeline, the Guam Waterworks Authority is seeking legislative authorization to borrow more funds in the next five years. With this new borrowing, GWA’s total debt obligation could hit the billion dollar mark.

To date, GWA has already borrowed $540 million, but according to CCU chairman Joey Duenas only $57 million remains to be spent.

“Today that master plan is 30 percent completed. Forty percent is under construction, and 15 percent is still a go, and 15 percent, we decided we didn’t need to do,” Duenas said during a Mayors’ Council of Guam meeting on Wednesday.

The money went to projects such as the Agat/Santa Rita wastewater treatment plant which had a project cost of $60 million, one of GWA’s most significant investments to date.

For years, GWA dumped partially treated wastewater into the waters of Agat, according to Duenas. During heavy rains, it had to discharge raw sewage into the ocean.

“We have been doing that for years because the system was never really well maintained or funded. You know it’s really sad, but that’s the way it was.”

GWA has more projects in the pipeline, according to Duenas, which meant more borrowing for the waterworks authority.

“So having borrowed $540 million, what are we doing here? We’re here to talk about the next six years which means we’re going to borrow some more money and we’re going to spend more money. All to improve our systems on Guam,” Duenas said.

He added, “So this is spreading out. The next borrowing we’re proposing is another $280 million, and in the next six years, in addition to the 540 (million) we’ve already spent, we are going to add another $524 million in projects. So by the time this ends, we are going to be very close to a billion dollars in 2024.”

With the need to complete various improvement projects looming overhead, where exactly will the CCU find the funding?

According to Duenas, $123 million will come from federal grants; $39 million in EPA grants; $9.7 million from the SDC or system development charge; $57 million leftover funding from the previous borrowing, among other sources.

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Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.