Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) has introduced Senate Bill 21-14 to make sure that residences and businesses in the CNMI won’t be overcharged for water use after Super Typhoon Yutu.
Yutu’s over 170-mph winds destroyed the power and water infrastructures of the islands, with water pumps also suffering significant damage that caused leaks in water lines.
Yutu hit Saipan and Tinian on Oct. 24 and in the early morning of Oct. 25.
On Oct. 31, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres declared a state of significant emergency for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.
Soon after Yutu, CUC could not provide the needed power, water, and wastewater services to the CNMI.
S.B. 21-14 states that water leaks were reported by residents and businesses immediately after CUC finished restoring water supply and distribution. The leaks further delayed the 24-hour distribution of water.
“The purpose of [S.B. 20-14] is to assist residential and business customers struggling to restore normalcy in their lives by ensuring the CUC does not charge consumers an excessive amount of water usage due to water leaks and to maintain the charges of water usage consumed during the month of October to December ,” as stated in Section 1. “However, if CUC is unable to resolve the water leaks reported as a result of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu, water usage rates charged for the month of September 2018 shall continue based on the assessment conducted by CUC.”
S.B. 21-14 would require CUC to charge their water consumers for October to November 2018 the same amount they previously charged for average water use from July to September 2018.
“In the event CUC is unable to resolve all reported water leaks by December 2018 that occurred as a result of the aftermath of Yutu, the water usage charges shall remain the same as the average water usage [from July to September 2018] or whichever is less for the particular month until such time that water leaks are resolved,” as stated in Section 2 101 (b).
Unmetered and flat rate consumers shall be billed the same flat rate amount, provided that the charges are prorated for “any respective month that the water service was not provided for the entire month.”
CUC, after all the leaks that disrupted the water supply and services have been addressed, will then issue a notice to inform its customers that they will implement charges for actual water usage in the next month.
Once S.B. 21-14 is signed into law, after CUC resolves all water leaks, customers that paid more than the average amount for [July to September 2018] water usage from [October to December 2018] “shall be given credit for the excess payment in their respective account for metered consumers.”