Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) has introduced Senate Bill 20-114 that would protect water consumers from being overcharged by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. on their water bills, in the wake of the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu last month.
“This is to ensure residences and businesses of the CNMI are not overcharged by CUC for water usage resulting from water leaks caused by Super Typhoon Yutu. The bill I introduced is actually a response to the community right after Yutu,” said Igisomar.
He related that soon after Yutu destroyed homes and facilities on the island, he and his wife went out to deliver water to those who needed them and help people with their other needs. Yutu, he said, had also damaged CUC water pipes.
“A lot of pipes were broken and so when CUC brought back water distribution in some areas, there were a lot of people who were not aware of it. Either they were staying in shelters or in the homes of their relatives. That’s why, when they [returned] to their homes, they found that their water faucets or pipes were just flowing,” said Igisomar.
S.B. 20-114’s purpose, he said, is intended to encourage CUC not to charge its water customers exorbitant fees for their billing after Oct. 24, November and December, since some won’t have the money to pay. “A lot of that water had continuously flowed out of their pipes, without them knowing and that their meters were running. These people can be facing $3,000 to $5,000 with their water utility bills or 100 to 200 percent of their regular monthly billing,” said Igisomar. “So the purpose of the bill is to direct CUC for their billing to at least go back to the month of September for the charging rate and offer those people with flat rate to try and pro-rate their billing for their water.”
He added that CUC should apply this system to all of their customers who would see a sudden increase in their water bills and make the adjustment accordingly. “It is a simple bill, but the purpose is to assist individuals with financial problems. Aside from rebuilding their lives and homes, they would face exorbitant CUC bills.”
“I will also send the bill to CUC to get their comments. Hopefully, we could expedite the process and see what input [CUC] can put in. Depending on their feedback, we will hopefully act on the bill immediately so we can take care of our people.”