Water: we still have a way to go

Sep 7, 2018

I have challenged an attempt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deauthorize $20 million for Saipan water infrastructure, included in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act. Saipan is one of almost 200 projects the Corps wants deauthorized because Congress has never actually appropriated funding. In my view, the Army Corps did not follow the correct procedure with respect to the Saipan money; and it is better to keep the authorization on the books and available. In the meantime, the $73 million in Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Act funds I have brought in since 2010 have helped the Commonwealth Utility Corporation reach the goal of providing 100 percent of Saipan customers with 24-hour water. CUC reported that achievement in federal court this week. Of course, that does not mean our work is done. CUC has also testified that water losses from the system are as high as 75 percent; and many households in our islands do not have connections to any public wastewater systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency assessment of national water system needs, the Marianas still requires $198.4 million to provide service to households and protect our environment.