Low water supply observed in Donni Springs, other wells

NWS: water supply should be monitored, conservation advised

While many of the water pumps that needed replacement on Saipan are installed and fixed, several villages are still experiencing issues in their water supply.

This is due to the low water supply being generated from the source.

“Because of the low supply, the drought [is] affecting maybe Donni Springs and Agag wells, two major suppliers. While the pumps are in, the production isn’t the same,” Commonwealth Utilities Corp. acting executive director Gary Camacho told the board of directors in a meeting last Wednesday.

Camacho said the problem will be a “growing issue.”

Among the villages experiencing water issues is Garapan where just last November, CUC was able to supply 24-hour water service to the whole area.

Representatives from CUC’s Water and Waste Water Division, headed by acting manager Richard Wasser, reported that Donni Springs, which is among the main supplier for Garapan, has significant decrease in water supply,

Donni Springs used to supply up to 500 gallons per minute. Today, however, it is only producing 57 gallons per minutes.

Garapan alone has a water demand of about 700 gallons per minute.

Responding to board inquiries on how much of the water demand is attributed to leaks, the management said it can’t be quantified.

However, the division said it was able to reduce its total unaccounted for water from 70 percent three years ago, to 60 percent today.

“We’ve reduced our accounted for water,” chief engineer John Riegel said, “Unaccounted for water is compromised of three things, leaks, theft, and inaccurate billing.”

CUC said they have an active leak detection unit and within almost a month since Jan. 24, CUC was able to detect and repair 79 leaks.

Wasser said they are in the process of hiring additional personnel for their division and adding crews to their leak detection unit.

Asked by the board if water issues will worsen throughout the year, CUC said they hope not to make it worse than it is.

“We hope to be improving our leak detection and leak repairs at the same rate that the drought is taking effect on our water systems. Our goal is to not make it worse than it is,” Wasser said.

Water monitoring, conservation

In their updated drought statement issued last Thursday, the National Weather Service said water supplies are needed to be monitored closely.

“Water supplies need to be monitored very closely and water conservation is highly encouraged,” NWS said.

Furthermore, NWS said wells could have more salinity in through the coming months.

“Wells on Saipan could see an increase in salinity as the drought progresses,” it added.

The amount of rainfall in the Commonwealth was also notable in that they are way below normal amounts.

“Rainfall has been well below normal the past few months and below normal rainfall will continue for the next several months,” NWS said.

For the first half of February, NWS recorded a meager 0.70 inch of rain for Saipan—a far cry from the 2.60 inches of normal rainfall.

Still, Rota has it worse with only 0.62 inch of rain as opposed to the normal 5.21 inches. Tinian had 0.15 inch of rain, way below the 3.30 inches normal rainfall.

“Computer models indicate that one half inch to an inch of rain will fall through the next 10 days for most of the commonwealth. Locally higher amounts are possible and catchment equipment should be maintained in good working order. Longer range models indicate rainfall will be much lower than normal through the next month or two at least,” NWS said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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