Thursday, August 16, 2007

Unpingco Hits Navy Fena Plan

Unpingco hits Navy Fena plan
Thursday, August 16, 2007
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

SENATOR Antonio Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, has criticized the Navy’s plan to increase the rate it charges for water processed at its Fena treatment plant.

Unpingco, who heads the Legislature’s military committee, described the Navy plan as “a shocking blow,” coming as it does when all other prices are also rising for such items as gasoline and power.

“Contrary to what the Navy says, the plan to increase rates will not just affect three villages but also other areas in the south,” said Unpingco, who hails from Santa Rita.

The Navy currently sells water to the Guam Waterworks Authority to supply the villages of Santa Rita, Agat and Piti.
According to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, the Navy plans to double its rate from $2 to $4 per thousand gallons starting Oct. 1.

If the increase is implemented, CCU estimates this would result in a cost increase to GWA of $3 million.

The Navy, however, maintains that the impact of an increase would be minimal since only three villages will be affected.

Lt. Donnell Evans, public affairs officer of the U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, said this will not have a significant effect on GWA’s bottom line.

He also said the Navy’s costs to operate Fena have increased, necessitating an increase in rates.

Unpingco, however, said the whole island will be affected by the increase implemented by the Navy for its Fena water.

“In the end, GWA’s cost will increase and GWA will have to pass on its increased costs to all of its customers. The whole island will end up paying to defray the cost,” the senator said.

In light of this development, Unpingco said his committee is looking at all avenues to see how the impact of a Navy rate increase could be mitigated.

“Perhaps we should revisit the plan to reclaim Fena. This should have been done a long time ago,” Unpingco said.

CCU chairman Simon Sanchez had said that it may be time to merge the Navy and GWA water systems and take over Fena.

Sanchez said GWA may be able to run Fena better and achieve economies of scale because GWA has a bigger customer base.

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