Working 18 days straight for utility restoration, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. said in a statement yesterday that it has successfully brought up five out of nine feeders online, with all feeder assessments complete and restoration of 64 percent of water production on Saipan and 100 percent water production on Tinian.
CUC executive director Gary Camacho said that restoration continues to prioritize critical facilities and water production and distribution.
“In the first week of restoration, we ensured that our shelter and hospitals were prioritized,” said Camacho in the statement. “Our crews continue along primary lines and roads and we’ve already begun the emergency RFP process for additional equipment and assistance.
“I want to extend my appreciation to [Guam Power Authority] general manager John Benavente, and the GPA crew as well as Pohnpei, Kosrae, Palau, and Chuuk utilities for offering their assistance and partnership.
“I am very proud of our crews and personnel on Saipan and Tinian and I am very grateful for their hard work, dedication and resilience as we continue to restore the power and water system to the community,” Camacho said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is confident in CUC’s power and water restoration efforts, with the aid of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and regional partnerships and assistance offered by Guam Power Authority, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Palau utilities.
“While crews on Saipan continue pushing forward, we await more equipment, materials, and assistance for Tinian in the coming days. I remain hopeful that our community will soon return back to normalcy quicker than we’ve had in past typhoons and storms.
“We can see that Tinian was severely impacted as well as the southern portion of Saipan, which will take some time to recover. I extend my gratitude to the sacrifices of our power and water crews and to all their families during this time. With life-sustaining facilities up and running, and our business district starting to come back to life, I ask for our community continued patience as we work together to restore,” Torres said.
According to Gary Byrd, CUC manager of Water and Wastewater Operations, approximately 56 percent of wells on Saipan are online islandwide and on island power or emergency generators.
Out of 15 tank service areas, the Agag area has five out of five wells online, As Matuis has 10 out of 10 wells online, Calhoun has three out of three wells online, Capital Hill has two out of four wells online, Dandan has five out of 14 wells online, Gualo Rai has three out of four wells online, Isley has 12 out of 31 wells online, Kagman has five out of 15 wells online, As Terlaje has 14 out of 20 wells online, Koblerville’s direct well is not currently online, Papago has three out of four online, Puerto Rico has two out of two online, Rapagao has seven out of 11 online, San Vicente has three out of six online, and the airport has one out of one online.
With the southern part of the island severely impacted, resulting in several damaged pipes and leaks in the island’s largest tank service area, Byrd said that the water division was able to bring up 11 more wells online over the weekend, with three of four Gualo Rai water wells up and running, adding to the water distribution in the southern part of the island and the overall production of the Isley Tank Service Area.
“The more wells we bring online in the South, the more volume we will have and we are getting a large percentage in the north which is used to supplement water distribution all the way to the south,” Byrd said. “Once we get Kagman wells up and running, we will have more water production that can come down to the east side to Dandan and Capit[a]l Hill coming down the west side. The more pumps and wells we get online, the more production and the more water we get online, we can extend our service areas.”
Byrd said that water service continues to stabilize as power to pumps and wells are restored and damage to pipes and major leaks are mitigated.
At this time, 75 out of 131 wells are on island power and emergency generators, producing 7.5 million gallons of water on Saipan.
Camacho noted that wastewater is also a priority in order to prevent sewage overflow, as sewage is being sent to treatment plants through lift stations on emergency power to protect the health of the public.
“CUC continues to perform extensive testing of water, testing several samples a day in service areas as well as filling stations. Water remains negative for bacterial contamination and we remind the community to practice caution with privately serviced wells or untreated water, which may not be safe for household use or consumption,” Byrd said.
Byrd reiterated that the community must continue to report leaks to the CUC Call Center and keep water meters and hydrants free of storm debris to preserve water service and allow access for CUC personnel.
“I extend my appreciation to our water engineers, wastewater engineers, to Rota personnel, GPA, Primary Source, USDPH, and all our personnel in the field and to all their families for their patience and for making this all possible,” Byrd said.
With a combined crew of 67 field personnel made up of engineers, surveyors, inspectors, safety officers, meter readers and line crew supported by 13 power and water personnel under the Operations Command Center, and additional 47 line crew, engineers and supervisors from Primary Source Electric and GPA, primary line repairs is ongoing and water wells through Feeder 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 continue to be restored.
Power Division manager Lee Lieto said the crews have been working round-the-clock to restore critical facilities and operations.
Lieto noted that PG sub-station in Lower Base near CUC’s main power plant has completed its assessment and is energized but not ready to be commissioned for service. This will supply power through an underground cable to the Kiya substation, allowing for the energizing of the southern part of Saipan.
At this time power personnel are performing tests on the Kiya substation to ensure safety, with crew working by sections through feeders.
Lieto explains that sections requiring major repairs are isolated and crews continue on to critical facilities and primary road line priorities. When repairs are completed on the customer side, crews will backtrack and inspect isolated areas before energizing.
“Our field personnel are performing repairs throughout critical lines non-stop and I would like to thank the families of our power crews who continue to offer support and patience while sacrificing time to put in long hours during this restoration period,” Lieto said.
Lieto states that Feeder 1—which services the area of Navy Hill, Lower and Upper MIHA, Bank of Guam and China Town—is at 90 percent restoration. The remaining 10 percent requires replacement of poles or secondary lines and customer repairs to weather heads and/or metering equipment.
Feeder 1—which services American Memorial Park, through Hotel Street in Garapan, Joeten onward to Garapan Fishing Base and the NMI District Court—have been energized.
Any areas not energized require pole replacement or customer repairs to weather head and/or metering equipment.
Completely online to service the wastewater lift station, Garapan Elementary School, and parts of Hotel Street.
Power crew continues restoration to areas of Sadog Tasi, Capital Hill (certain sections requiring customer repair to metering equipment), I Denni (customer must perform repairs to metering equipment for isolated areas), Wireless Ridge (customer must perform repairs to metering equipment for isolated areas), As Teo (customer must perform repairs to metering equipment for isolated areas), Mt. Tapochau road work is ongoing, Agag is online, partials of Papago and Kagman 1 from Kagman Mobil to Kagman Market is complete).
Power crew will be prioritizing primary lines and wells in Kagman 2, 3, and 4 for water restoration and critical facilities.
Kiya 1 & Kiya 2 (double circuit)
Assessment at Kiya substation is ongoing but pole restoration from Chalan Kiya to As Terlaje to Shell Dandan Gas Station and work in progress to Airport Road continues towards Isley Field water wells, which are strictly primary lines.
Assessment and pole replacement, framing and conductor installation also continues on primary lines through As Lito into Koblerville, to power additional Isley Field and Obyan water wells.
Assessment is complete but restoration is still a work in progress. Kiya 3 services certain parts in Chalan Kiya, Gualo Rai, and Quartermaster Road.
Assessment is complete but restoration is still a work in progress. Feeder services Oleai and south to Susupe and parts of Chalan Kanoa near the U.S. Post Office.
This area, which services much of the northern part of the island, is at 90 percent complete with 5 percent consisting of downed poles in isolated areas and 5 percent in need of customer repairs to metering equipment.
CUC has received reports of the tampering of FEMA and CUC generators at water wells. Theft and/or tampering of generators will severely affect water service and cause delays in power restoration. Tampering is a local and federal offense covered under the US Code for Public Health and Welfare Section 300i-1.
Residents are asked to maintain vigilance of FEMA and CUC property and are urged to document suspicious activity and inform the Department of Public Safety and then contact the CUC Call Center at (670) 664-4282 immediately.
Additionally, the public is urged to report any and all pipe leaks as water service areas go online. Assessment continues in affected areas and ongoing repairs will assist with maintaining water service schedules.
Inform the Call Center immediately to mitigate water leaks, which severely affect water supply and scheduled service. (PR)