EPA inspector: CUC improves 24-hour water service on Saipan in short term



The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is currently adopting many of its drinking water and wastewater master plan recommendations, improving 24-hour service in the short term, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspector John Tinger.

Tinger stated, though, that CUC has not committed to full implementation of the master plan to ensure 24-hour water in the long term.

Bradley R. O’Brien, senior lawyer of the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section, submitted Tinger’s declaration last week before the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

The master plan requires CUC to fund and implement necessary improvements and maintain the utility.

That commitment includes ensuring that stipulated order 1 and 2 projects are maintained in future years, do not fall into disrepair, and continue to function as designed, Tinger said.

The SO1 and 2 projects that Tinger was referring to include CUC pipeline, tanks 102 and 103, secondary containment, the proposed incinerator, the Agingan and Sadog Tasi wastewater treatment facilities, and improvement made toward providing 24-hour drinking water service.

SO1 focuses on drinking water and wastewater and the restructuring of CUC’s organization. It requires CUC to have an EPA-approved 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.

SO2 focuses on oil issues and applies to oil spills and the remediation of the contaminated power plants.

Tinger said the master plan provides a roadmap to 24-hour water supply throughout Saipan.

He said the master plan contains quantifiable milestones for capital improvement projects and identifies critical needs for the system over the next 20 years based on prioritized rankings and hydraulic capacities.

Several key recommendations include the creation of a new “East” Tank Service Area and a “West” Tanks Service Area, improvements to the water transmission system at the Agag and Marpi wells, and booster station improvements at the Maui IV, Agag, Donnie Springs, Isley II, and Kagman.

EPA has funded the development of the master plan with over $3.3 million in grant funding. EPA conditionally approved the draft master plan in 2016.

Tinger said EPA did not fully approve CUC draft master plan because CUC did not commit to fund and implement the master plan requirements.

He said that, last July 19, CUC provided a response that was inadequate to address EPA’s comments for conditional approval of the master plan.

“To date, CUC has not provided a sufficient response to EPA’s conditional approval,” Tinger said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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