EPA funding three more CUC projects for $5.8M

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is funding three more projects on Saipan with an estimated total cost of $5.8 million that will increase the reliability of 24-hour water service in San Vicente, As Lito, Chinatown homestead, and other areas.

EPA inspector John Tinger disclosed in court documents that EPA is funding the San Vicente storage tank project, with a projected cost of $3.3 million; the Chinatown homestead waterline replacement project, with an estimated cost of $1.1 million; and the As Lito water main project, with a cost of $1.4 million.

In the San Vicente project, Tinger said the existing corroded steel tank will be replaced with a pre-stressed concrete tank.

It is a 500,000-gallon capacity tank serving the southern area of Saipan and is a critical component to continue serving San Vicente customers with 24-hour water. Tinger said the project is currently in the design phase.

About the Chinatown homestead area project, Tinger said the old asbestos concrete water lines, which are severely leaking, will be replaced.

He said the current water lines prevent the area from getting 24-hour water. Tinger said the project is currently in the design phase.

With respect to the As Lito water main project, Tinger said 23,500 linear feet of waterlines and valves have been replaced.

He said the corroded waterlines were negatively affecting the ability of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to provide 24-hour water due to extensive leaks.

CUC has substantially completed this project.

EPA is funding two other CUC projects with an estimated total cost of $2.73 million in Gualo Rai and in Fina Sisu by replacing old and leaking water lines to provide 24-hour water supply to customers.

Last week, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David O. Carter, and CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho led the ribbon-cutting for the completed As Terlaje water tank at the Northern Marianas College. The new tank will provide water service to a large portion of the west side of Saipan. EPA funded the tank project for $6,151,435, while CUC provided $680,000. The total construction cost was $4,940,237.

Tinger is EPA’s designated project coordinator of stipulated order No. 1, which focuses on drinking water and wastewater and the restructuring of CUC’s organization. It requires CUC to have an EPA-approved comprehensive drinking water and wastewater master plan to determine infrastructure needs and to provide a long-term plan for CUC’s drinking water and wastewater system improvements.

For the first time, 100 percent of Saipan residents had a 24-hour water supply last month, according to CUC water/wastewater division manager Gary Byra.

In 2006 or prior to the entry of SO1, only 26 percent of the Saipan population experienced continuous 24-hour drinking water service.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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