Guam – The Governor, CCU member Eloy Hara and 3 senators toured Fena Reservoir and the Navy’s water treatment plant on Naval Magazine Friday.
It was an opportunity for local leaders to see the facilities that are to be transferred to GovGuam at a $300 million dollar price tag. However, the transfer may not be as easy as it looks.
The goal of the tour was to give island leaders a better sense of what assets GovGuam could get if the transfer of Fena lake and the water treatment plant does occur.
“(We’re) Completely open to any questions we want to be transparent on this we have no ulterior motives on this we’re not trying to sell you anything,” said Rear Admiral Paul Bushong lightheartedly.
Bushong is the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas and he made this comment partly because the transfer of Fena has been at the center of controversy due to a recently passed provision of law that would require Fena lake to be sold to GovGuam at an estimated cost of three hundred million dollars.
This is something that both local lawmakers and the governor have protested. It’s also something that the Navy says they had nothing to do with. “DOD makes it’s concerns known and then Congress does what Congress does and I think the reason that the words are in the NDA(National Defense Authorization Act) to authorize the Secretary of Defense to transfer the land is because of Congresswoman Bordallo who pushed that in there.”
“As far as the clause about payment my understanding, and to my knowledge, nobody ever asked us what we thought about anything. I think the tag about the payment was put in by staffers,” explained Rear Admiral Bushong.
In fact the Navy doesn’t appear to want to let go of Fena lake at all as it is an important asset that Rear Admiral Bushong says is critical to their mission. “A statement made earlier was the Navy just needs to declare this excess and transfer it to the government of Guam. We rely on this water as mission critical there is no way no how I could never say that this source of water is excess to our needs. We need it for our ships, our submarines, and we need it for the families and military members that live here. And quite honestly we need it for the civilian population,” said the Rear Admiral.
Governor Calvo responded to this saying, “The spirit of the law is that this will be transferred to the civilian government but now we need to make sure that we give those guarantees as well in order for the federal government and the military to ensure that their mission is met is that we ensure that the quality of this water that there would be no disruption and hopefully an improvement in quality if and when this transfer occurs.”
Navfac Marianas Capt Peter Lynch also brought up the fact that the entire Fena lake complex is surrounded by the naval magazine which is a munitions storage area. Fena lake is in the explosive arc of the munitions which is why the Navy says transferring it would be difficult for safety reasons.
Legislative chairman on utilities senator Tom Ada says the turnover is definitely more complex than the turnover of the Guam Power Authority, but he believes it is still feasible. “I think anything is feasible if you work hard enough at it in the case of Fena because of the other delicate issues involved with it the magazine there may be more constraints that may be involved but for me right now ownership is important but probably more important for me is that the needs of the island be met by the two water producers,” said Senator Ada.