Grants from agencies such as the U.S Department of Agriculture should be taken advantaged by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to improve water services, according to Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).
Deleon Guerrero inquired with Anthony Barcinas, business/community programs specialist of USDA-Rural Development, about the possibility of the grants that could be made available to the CNMI.
In his response to Deleon Guerrero, Barcinas enumerated programs such as the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants, Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households, and the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. He noted that he and the Hawaii Rural Water Association met with CUC Water and Waste Water Division chief engineer John Riegel last January to discuss the programs.
“I support CUC applying for grants and loans so that they can improve the water system,” Deleon Guerrero said, “CUC should take advantage of those programs.”
He added that he is concerned and has mentioned primarily the needs of the residents in the Mt. Tapochau area, Kannat Tabla, and in Kagman IV.
“They need to improve the water facilities to Kannat Tabla as well all the way to the Bishop Camacho’s residence, those are lacking water services,” Deleon Guerrero said.
“Kagman IV because it’s the most recent homestead that was opened that did not come with a water system,” he added.
Deleon Guerrero, who is a member of the House committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, also took note of the fact that CUC currently doesn’t have a grants writer and is only contracting their former grants writer to do certain works.
“CUC should make that a priority and fill the position,” Deleon Guerrero said.
According to Riegel, they will be looking into the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant, which could provide $150,000 to $500,000 that they could use for tank repairs.
“The Kagman tank and some of the other tanks had some damage to them so we need to get those fixed so we’re going to go after some money for that,” Riegel said.
Riegel said the USDA grant can help with some projects that are not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“I’m trying to take care of all the FEMA stuff first, the mitigation projects, that’s more important so I need to get that out and then I will turn my attention to the USDA grants,” Riegel said.
“[USDA] got these special grant programs that helps do mitigation programs and that kind of augments that fraction that FEMA doesn’t cover,” he added.