Most of CUC’s offline water wells are due to chemical contaminants


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has 21 water wells on Saipan that are offline and most of these are due to chemical contaminants, according to CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho.

CUC said that both perflourooctane sulfonates, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, are human-made substances and are not naturally found in the environment and have been used extensively in commercial goods (carpets, clothing, furniture, paper packaging for food) and in materials that are resistant to water, grease or stain such as cookware.

In his recent report to the CUC board of directors, Camacho said 10 wells were turned off due to PFOA/PFOS contaminants; four due to collapsed casing and low production; one shaft due to collapsed infiltration tunnel; one offline due to E. coli contamination; and five due to motor failure and E. coli contamination.

Camacho noted that U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David O. Carter ordered the shutdown of two wells due to PFOA/PFOS contamination.

Camacho said CUC assisted with the Public Health Emergency COVID-19 for the Marianas Resort quarantine site to get water well No. 2 by making the transmission line and water tanks operational for use.

CUC has 140 water wells on Saipan, including one that was abandoned. There are 118 wells that are online. CUC is planning to buy and install 10 granulated activated carbon system units to filter CUC’s drinking water and remove chemicals that cause contamination.

Last Jan. 8, CUC issued a health advisory that it had detected in some areas on Saipan levels of PFOS and PFOA that exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion in a water system.

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

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