96 percent of Saipan now has 24-hour water supply

CUC priority now on water leaks

In this file photo, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David Carter talks with a project contractor’s representative during a tour last Jan. 30 at the newly constructed Northern Marianas College 1.0-million-gallon water tank. The tank replacement project, which was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has been fully operational since a couple of months ago. Listening to the discussion are Commonwealth Utilities Corp. counsel, board of directors, and officials, along with U.S. Department of Justice and EPA counsels and officials, and Gilbane Federal officials. Carter also inspected other CUC water and wastewater projects during that tour. (Ferdie de la Torre)

The visit by U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David Carter last January that focused on the water and wastewater operations of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has resulted in 24-hour water now being supplied to 96 percent of Saipan, with CUC now shifting its priorities to water leak repairs, according to CUC officials.

CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho and CUC deputy executive director William B. Gilmore disclosed that, based on the focus of Carter’s visit during the latter part of January 2018, CUC water and wastewater operations staff and the water and wastewater engineering division have been working on infrastructure improvements.

Camacho and Gilmore said they are prioritizing leak repairs now that 24-hour water is being supplied to 96 percent of Saipan and are incorporating the new Northern Marianas College water tank in the supply system, which has allowed CUC to push water further north of Garapan.

CUC’s two top officials discussed the success story of the utilities agency’s water and wastewater operations in their stipulated order No. 1’s quarterly report, which covers April 1, 2018, through June 30, 2018. The report was submitted last week in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

SO1 focuses on drinking water and wastewater and the restructuring of CUC’s organization.

Camacho and Gilmore said CUC’s effort allows its water operations to hydraulically balance supply between tank service areas and to pressurize the transmission and distribution system with an average of 38 lbs. per square inch.

They said storage tanks that used to store no more than 25 percent of their capacity before CUC lost them to leak conditions are now storing upwards of 75 percent to 90 percent of their capacity.

“Having all but the eight contaminated wells operating, one contaminated well is back in service, along with Donie Spring which runs strong during wet weather conditions, is a significant success story for CUC,” Gilmore said.

Camacho and Gilmore admitted they haven’t been this efficient or this effective for at least eight years or more.

They added that completing the China Town water line replacement project next year will further benefit this success, based on the known leaks in that area.

Camacho and Gilmore said they are mindful that a to-do list must be pursued in anticipation of Carter’s next trip to Saipan this month.

Despite the focus on tasks to be done, they said CUC had been planning, implementing and proceeding with efforts to address all of these issues. The list includes putting 17 wells back online to improve 24-hour service to the island’s various areas—Koblerville, China Town, and Gualo Rai. They said the work on the 17 wells is now complete.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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