GWA loan program to eliminate cesspool and septic systems

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The improved Agat-Santa Rita Waste Water Treatment Plant that opened its doors Friday is the most state of the art wastewater treatment plant in the region.

As part of the Guam Water authorities efforts to entice residents to eliminate the use of cesspool and septic systems, GWA seeks to improve their loan program to increase the amount people can receive , as well as longer term periods for applicants and other incentives to attract consumers to connect to a sewer system.

According to a study made by GWA In 2021, that as of June 30, 2020, the Guam Waterworks Authority had 42,224 residential and commercial customers, of which 15,802 were charged for only water service, not water and sewer service. Therefore, 37% of GWA’s residential and commercial customers are not charged for sewer service.

Moreover, the program was initially going to be funded by Guam EPA through a grant, but with certain rules put into place on how the funds can be used, it made it difficult to be used for the consumers.

The regulations also included a limit of the amount that can be used , which in turn could not cover future construction costs.

Miguel Bordallo, GWA General Manager says, “This program was established for residents within 200 feet of an existing sewer but aren’t connected. There’s already a law in the book that requires their connection within 5 years of that sewer line being in place, but still thousands of homes within that enforceable distance who are not connected.”

According to Miguel Bordallo, GWA hopes to expand this program to offer both low interest loans in order to connect to those sewers.

Moreover, the goal for this program is to not only provide residents a connection to the system at a low cost, but to protect Guam’s waters, said Bordallo, he added that right now their concentration are areas with the most risk to the island water system.

Back in 2009, Guam Water authority established a program to help increase the amount of participation within residents to connect to a sewer system and eliminate the use of cesspool and septic tanks.

The study also explains that GWA provides potable water service to most of the island’s civilian population. Groundwater from the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer provides about 80% of Guam’s drinking water.

The water lens is recharged primarily by rainfall infiltrating through the limestone aquifer. Limestone features, such as sinkholes and fractures, allow a quicker infiltration rate. The porous nature of limestone increases the risk of groundwater contamination from surface activities, such as cesspools and septic tanks.

During a NewsTalk K57 interview with Patti Arroyo, Bordallo says that it is unlikely that someone would get denied of the loan, as it is set so that if you can’t get a loan elsewhere this would be the back stop.

“There are other incentives that we’re trying to throw in including if you connect when we put in a new sewer line rather than waiting to connect to it if you connect at the same time then we propose a 5 year deferment on loan repayment. This program is set up for people who can’t afford or can’t get a loan to connect to a sewer system,” says Bordallo.

Additionally, if you would like to find out if you are within 200 feet of a sewer line then you can reach out to the Engineering Permit Section Of Guam Water Works for a utility verification.

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Althea Engman or as she is referred to as Thea joined the PNC team in August of 2021 as their youngest reporter and after a few months she was given the opportunity to be their weather girl. She currently attends the University of Guam while working at Sorenson. Her hobbies include dancing, creating content for social media, as well modeling on the side, she also is a big dog lover. Before working for PNC, she didn’t think about pursuing a career in journalism or a related field but it has helped her figure out a better career path. She covers a wide variety of news beats with a focus on legislation and lifestyle.