Guam receives $10M for water infrastructure

NO WATER: A water tanker sits along the road in Barrigada near a site where Guam Waterworks Authority crews were working to a water outage in this August file photo.Guam is receiving $9.95 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support safer water for the island. Post file photo

UPDATE: Water was restored by 1:30 p.m. 

A water outage affecting parts of Barrigada and Toto, since early Saturday morning, means people are having to leave their homes to find water to clean, bathe and cook with in the midst of a COVID-19 lockdown.

One man from Toto Gardens was at a water tank parked along Toto-Cañada Road at around 10 a.m. He said he’d been without water since 2 a.m.

“People woke up this morning without water,” said Barrigada Mayor June Blas. “Those that are calling me, a majority of them that were effected before.”

Blas said though Guam Waterworks Authority are working on replacing the decades-old water lines, it’s frustrating for people in the area who turn on their kitchen sink or bathroom shower only to find the pipe is dry.

“And in times like this we try to encourage people from going out,” she said

The main water line that feeds water to Cañada and Toto Road and the surrounding streets was leaking, according to a notice from GWA. Water is expected to be restored around 3-5 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s unfortunate,” Bias said. “Our pressure in that area is good but the lines in that area is very old … And I think this COVID-19 pandemic is pushing projects back … to fully replace and restore these lines.”

Miguel Bordallo, GWA general manager, said his teams have been working through the pandemic on the design. 

"(The) design contract was awarded and is in progress and 60% design has been reviewed. We expect design completion in a few months and construction bid thereafter," Bordallo said. 

"We may have property/right-of-way issues to work through, which can sometimes delay design completion." 

Bordallo said he didn't have on hand the impact that issue would have on the estimated schedule, though he noted that the design completion is scheduled for December.

"Construction bid will immediately follow," he stated. "Estimated construction period for these types of projects is typically 6 months, but depend of complexity of site conditions." 

Years of effort

GWA has been working to replace the water lines throughout the island.

The lines in Barrigada could be at least 50 years old, using cement pipes that companies in the water service industry stopped using in the 1980s, GWA officials have said.

Last year, GWA reported that more than $9.2 million worth of line replacement projects were completed under Phase IV of its replacement project, which started in February 2016 and was expected to be completed 2019. By the completion of Phase IV, approximately 100,000 linear feet of piping is expected to be replaced, GWA officials stated.

Mongmong, Barrigada and Mangilao are part of Phase V. This phase will include about $30 million worth of waterline replacement over the next six years for pipes all over the island.

Being patient

Blas is hoping GWA can find ways to speed up the process and get consistent water to residents soon.

“I know that waterworks is doing their best,” she said.

“You know the residents are very patient but in times like this, we really need to find ways to ensure that our people have the water … to sanitize and stay clean. Water is more essential than power, especially right now, and I hope they can restore it quickly.”

Bordallo added: "I apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to service. GWA crews are working diligently through the current PCOR-1 restrictions to complete repairs and restore service, and I ask the public's patience until the line replacement project can be completed." 

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