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CUC preps to demolish old San Vicente water tank

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The Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s steel tank behind the San Vicente Church is being prepared for demolition. The 0.5-million-gallon water tank will be replaced with a new 0.75-million-gallon concrete pre-stressed water tank. Right now, CUC’s contractors, GPPC Inc., is building the polyethylene fence that will protect nearby buildings from dust and debris once the demolition starts. The water tank demolition will occur either on Monday or Tuesday next week. (NEIL FAMA)

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has started preparations to demolish the corroded water tank behind the San Vicente Church and replace it with a pre-stressed concrete tank, similar to the one at the Northern Marianas College.

In a recent interview with William Gilmore, CUC deputy executive director, he said the new concrete water tank will have a durability of 100 years, whereas the metal tank has a durability of only 25 years. It will also get bigger, from one capable of holding .5 million gallons of water to one with a .75-million-gallon capacity.

CUC stated in a press release that this project will provide a resilient and reliable water distribution system that also has lower operation and maintenance costs.

Gilmore stated that the transition from metal to concrete will be better in the long run since the island suffers from many earthquakes. “[Because we have] earthquakes just about every day here, concrete handles that shifting a lot better. Plus you don’t have any corrosion and buildup on your materials, so, you’re always much more efficient,” said Gilmore.

GPPC Inc. was awarded the construction contract for the project as its primary contractor. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The first phase of construction began last December 2020, along with the installation of the temporary 70,000-gallon tank, piping, and connections.

For the moment, a temporary tank will temporarily be used until the project is completed in September 2021.

According to Gilmore, the temporary tank will first be disinfected and tested for pathogens (bacteria/virus that can cause disease) and, once it is completed and passes bacteriological testing, the temporary water storage tank will then be integrated into the system this Friday, Jan. 29.

Because CUC will do a transition for the pipeline, they will have to shut off the water for the villages of San Vicente, Papago (along Isa Drive), Laulau, Tuturam, Upper Dandan Homestead, Obyan, and Naftan. Gilmore suggests that residents should collect as much water as they can.

After CUC is done with the transfer, Gilmore said, CUC will have to let the new water tank settle so that the valves could find a balance and won’t “blow up the system.” Once everything is done, Gilmore said that there will be ongoing monitoring of the system.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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