CUC acknowledges that it continues to have work to do to satisfy the expectations of Environmental Protection Agency’s Stipulated Order 1. However, CUC has been working diligently to address the issues identified in those charges.
CUC has been making use of EPA grant funds to address a number of critical infrastructure repair projects and in every case, significant thought has been put forward to assure that improvements provide not only rehabilitation of a failing asset, but also new efficiencies that will ultimately provide for expanding 24-hour water service islandwide, improved pressures islandwide, and a reduction in water main breaks used by water hammer as we repeatedly tum off and on valves to fix leaks and scheduled water service hours.
Wastewater is just as big a challenge. The treatment facilities are in need of significant rehabilitation, whereas the lift stations that pump effluent to each treatment facility are being rehabilitated and new wireless connectivity is being added to improve site monitoring of those facilities. Sanitary pipelines are in need of significant improvement and efforts to rehabilitate sections of main will continue in small chunks as funds are made available.
CUC has been advertising for a chief engineer since July 2017 and the applicants are being vetted by EPA.
CUC has conditional approval from EPA of its water and wastewater master plan; however, EPA is asking for a commitment from CUC to fund the recommendations included in the master plan. That issue is not in contention by CUC. The only issue is establishing effective rates for both water and wastewater services that provide funding to pay for those recommendations.
In general, CUC is well along the trail of satisfying the elements of the master plan but as we all know these plans are long-term and the pace of progress depends on funding availability.
Regarding capital spending efforts on the three islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota, CUC has initiated 50 projects of which 30 are completed and the remainders are a work-in-progress. The total value of EPA-funded capital improvements total $40-plus million with an additional $20 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior and Capital Improvement Projects under the Office of Planning and Development. At the same time, CUC is preparing plans, funded through FEMA, to invest in a hardening of the water system infrastructure such that when the next significant weather event occurs, at least 70 percent of the water supply sources will be available immediately following the event. This is targeted for completion in August of 2019.