Guam Waterworks Failed to Complete Water Tank Assessment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 25 penalized the Guam Waterworks Authority $57,000 for failing to fully comply with a stipulated order to make improvements to its drinking water and wastewater systems.

GWA was penalized for the continued failure to meet a Dec. 31, 2008 deadline for completing a condition assessment to determine the structural stability and soundness of steel tank water reservoirs that need immediate assessment, and for failure to complete a condition assessment of the remaining steel tank water reservoirs by Dec. 31, 2009. Some of the tanks have severely corroded exterior walls, roofs, or valves, or are missing tank parts.

“The penalties are a consequence of GWA’s continued failure to meet the stipulated order requirements and complete the necessary improvements to provide reliable drinking water service to residents,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “These water storage tanks are a critical component of the GWA water system, as they help ensure water pressure and adequate flow throughout the system and prevent contaminants from entering the water supply.”

The condition assessment of GWA water tanks was to be performed in two phases. High priority tanks were to be assessed by December 2008, and all other tanks by December 2009. Although GWA did an initial, visual inspection of all tanks in 2008, it has not completed the required, full structural assessments of any tanks to date. The $57,000 penalty assessed is the second imposed by EPA in response to GWA’s failure to complete the tank assessment. On Aug. 17, 2009, EPA assessed a penalty of $19,000 for GWA’s noncompliance with its duty to assess its high priority tanks through that date.

“Many of the tanks located around the island are in poor condition which underscores the need to complete the assessment and address the deficiencies as required by the court order,” said John McCarroll, Pacific Islands Office manager for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. The order provides for penalties if established deadlines are not met and for additional penalties until the work is complete. It also requires upgrades and improvements to GWA’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure the proper management, treatment and delivery of safe drinking water, and proper wastewater treatment.

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