Sewer overflow floods San Jose road

CUC executive director says problem has been addressed

A portion of Apengagh Avenue is flooded with sewage water from an overflowing sewerline yesterday morning.

Residents near the San Jose Church complained yesterday morning about a problematic sewerline on a portion of Apengagh Avenue in San Jose that flooded the road with sewer water and threw up a cloud of stench that a father said was triggering the asthma of his children.

Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive director Gary P. Camacho said the incident, which he said was caused by the loose coupling, has been addressed.

“The pipes are reconnected and the spilled waste has been neutralized in the affected area,” Camacho said.

Residents told Saipan Tribune that a crew from CUC had been draining a manhole on the road and that may have something to do with the sewage water overflowing into the road.

“My kids are becoming asthmatic already. The smell is really bad. We cannot even eat,” a resident who requested anonymity told Saipan Tribune.

The resident said he called the CUC Trouble Desk yesterday and was told by a staff that the sewer department was closed as it was a holiday. Yesterday was CNMI Constitution Day.

The resident said a CUC crew did arrive in the area during lunch time and covered the sewer water with a white substance to minimize the bad odor. Camacho later said that the white substance is lime being spread on the water on the road to neutralize the odor.

A San Jose resident points to the flooded potion of the road. When the photo was taken, the water had already subsided. A man who lives in the area said that the bad odor is triggering his children’s asthma. (Neil Fama/Ferdie de la Torre)

The San Jose resident said a CUC crew has been draining the sewage from a manhole in the area for two weeks now and there is always overflow on the road every time they do it.

Another resident said there’s a lot of CUC vehicles in their area during the draining operation that has been ongoing for a month now. She said sometimes they could not sleep due to the noise coming from a machine whenever the repair/operation is done until midnight.

Another resident recalled that a cargo truck fell last month into a hole when a portion of the side of the road collapsed. At the time, CUC or its contractor had left a small hole uncovered after trying to fix the sewerline. The sewage water had flooded the road and the driver of the truck did not notice the small hole. When the truck moved forward on the small hole atop a sewerline, it collapsed. This caused the vehicle to fall into about 3- to 4-foot deep hole.

Camacho said that CUC operators were at the collapsed asbestos cement pipe site located on Apengagh Avenue to run the bypass system around 11:30am yesterday. Camacho said this bypass system is run daily to minimize sewer overflows into the ground.

“A coupling on the bypass line became loose and popped out when the trash pump was turned on,” said Camacho, adding that the estimated amount of sewer overflow is 10 gallons.

He said operators at the site reconnected the coupling on the bypass system area where the sewer overflowed.

CUC has already reported this incident to the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality as part of standard operating procedures.

Camacho said the causes of the collapsed sewerline was due to the aged infrastructure. He said CUC is in the process of identifying funds to replace the whole segment of the collapsed sewerline.

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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