VIDEO: CCU Wants More Time to Comply With New EPA Mandates, GWA Ratepayers “Tapped Out” by Upgrade Costs

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Guam – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has reissued clean water permits to GWA requiring that the plants Northern and Agana Wastewater Treatment plants be upgraded to Secondary Treatment Requirements.

“The solids are separated from the liquids,” Guam EPA Administrator Eric Palacios said of the simplicity of the current system being used. 

“Secondary is also just self explanatory in that after primary treatment it goes into a more secondary treatment stage which is more robust more refined  filtration systems are more are at higher standards.”

But Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Simon Sanchez says ratepayers will ultimately pay the price for the upgrades, rate payers who he says are already “tapped out” with the burden of paying other court ordered upgrades and repairs.. That is why Sanchez says GWA will ask for an extended time line which is something he notes Hawaii was granted.

“If we had to do both at the same time water bills would go to $200 a month you can’t price water beyond the reach of people,” Sanchez said. “The people of Guam still have only limited funding.”

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Proposal does allocate $ 246 Million for upgrades to the Northern District Treatment Plan but Sanchez says we can’t count on that money being there.

Palacios says that while secondary treatment is better for the environment he would support an extended time line for GWA.

 “I think ultimately GWA and Guam EPA our goal is that ultimately whatever system is in place is a good system and that it lasts for a long time and so that rate payers don’t have to be burdened with an additional cost down the road” Palacios told PNC. “If getting an extension would achieve that I would support it. “

The 273-point-3 million dollars proposed in President Obama’s 2014 budget for Guam waste water treatment is part of $768 Million in spending proposed for Guam next fiscal year. Congresswoman Bordallo today announced that the budget also proposes funds for other civilian infrastructure projects, brown tree snake mitigation, coral reef conservation efforts mitigation for compact impact.