CUC gets $4.518M to power wells with emergency gensets

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded the Commonwealth $4,518.008 so it can install generators that will power its water well in times of emergencies.

In a statement, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the project will better prepare the islands in times of disasters and emergencies and further the goals of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to provide reliable water service.

“When Typhoon Soudelor hit, water service was cut off for the entire island because there was no electricity to power the pumps. FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to place generators in certain wells just to supply adequate water for our community,” Torres said.

CUC deputy executive director William Gilmore said that FEMA has been very good for the CNMI and CUC in the wake of Typhoon Soudelor.

“In anticipation of any future problems, FEMA had resolved to provide funding that will help support a problem that existed during Soudelor. We did not have adequate coverage and back up generators to supply power to our well fields so that we could keep water on island. The reverse osmosis system, which is a water purification technology, had to be provided by the military temporarily in several locations.”

“So the intent here is to…provid[e] pad-mounted generators that has back-up power supply for a certain amount of time that allows us to continue to provide water during an emergency,” Gilmore added.

The project will result in the installation of 12 pad-mounted generators at strategic sites to provide emergency back-up power to 91 water wells on Saipan. It includes seven new concrete structures and two hardened buildings to house the new generators and electrical switchgear. It will also install wind-resistant concrete poles with new power transformers.

To ensure the reliability of the power supply to the wells, electric lines will be moved from overhead to underground.

Gilmore said the intent of the award is a preventive measure. “We appreciate FEMA’s funding strategy because it really is a smart approach in maintaining our well fields during those critical times.”

“Our job is to make sure that the wells are in working order so at the time when it is needed, it automatically switches over and we can withdraw that power supply. All the budget will go to that. I assume that installation is going to happen in three to four months,” Gilmore added.

Part of FEMA’s requirement in maintaining the generators are sufficient fuel supply and efficient delivery.

“One of the requirements that FEMA has asked for is…a consistent delivery schedule…so that the power supply will always be running. That’s part of the obligation that comes with this FEMA [grant],” Gilmore said.

Bea Cabrera

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