VIDEO: GWA Wants More Time; Judge Will Decide

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Guam – District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood heard arguments from both the U-S EPA and the Guam Waterworks Authority FRIDay morning as she attempts to hammer out a revised order for completion of the outstanding projects that GWA must finish in order to come into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

District Court Judge Franics Tydingco-Gatewood heard arguments from both the U-S EPA and the Guam Waterworks Authority FRIDAY morning as she attempts to hammer out a revised order for completion of the outstanding projects that GWA must finish in order to come into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

District Court Magistrates Judge Joaquin Manibusan was ordered to recommended some revised timelineS to the court after  GWA and U.S. EPA failed to agree on when those projects should be done.

However GWA Friday asked for more time to complete the upgrades to the southern waste-water plants, particularly the Agat-Santa Rita treatment plant.

CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez argued that the total cost of all the upgrades the U.S. EPA is seeking would be between two and three hundred million dollars. That will force a doubling of water rates over the next decade, and the island’s rate-payers need more time to absorb the IMPACT.

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood said  she will issue her order soon.

READ Judge Manibusan’s report and recommendations on deadlines for completing outstanding GWA projects

Southern Wastewater Systems:

The U.S. EPA wanted ALL the upgrades to the Southern Wastewater systems done by December 31, 2016.

GWA asked for a staggered completion dates stretching out to 2021 as follows.

> December 31 2019 for completing the improvements to the Agat-Santa Rita system
> December 31 2020 for completing the improvements to the Baza Gardens system
> December 31 2021 for completing the improvements to the Umatac-Merizo system.

However, Judge Manibusan writes that  “the court can no longer delay for another decade the solutions desperately needed for the problems experienced by the Southern wastewater systems.”

Judge Manibusan therefore recommended the following compromise dates:

>December 31, 2016 for completing the Agat-Santa Rita WWTP
>December 31, 2017 for completing the Baza Gardens WWTP
>December 31, 2018 for completing of the Umtac-Merizo WWTP

Judge Manibusan also writes: “the court simply can not allow this ongoing risk to public health to continue knowing that a solution can be achieved sooner if GWA increased its rates.”

READ Judge Manibusan’s attachment providing further details on his recommended deadlines for project completion

In addition, Judge Manibusan made the following recommendations for 2 other areas of disagreement:

*  Hagatna WWTP

– the difference between the 2 on the completion time line was 3 to 9 months
– Judge Manibusan recommends adopting GWA’s later completion date in order to “permit GWA to raise rates and financing if the Government of Japan decides it will not fund these projects.”

* Deadline for GWA to develop and submit Infiltration/Inflow Analyses and Sewer System Evaluations Surveys

– the difference in their proposed timelines was only 90 days.
– Judge Manibusan recommends adoption of GWA’s later date because “the additional 90 days will ensure the survey provides the solutions both parties agree is needed.”

Agreement was reached on Northern District Waste Water Treatment plant [WWTP]

– construction of interim primary treatment improvements by September 30, 2012.

GWA and U.S. EPA have 14 days to file comments and/or objections to Judge Manibusan’s recommendations.  Chief District Court Judge Tydingco-Gatewood will make a final decision on whether or not to adopt in full or make changes to the recommended deadlines.