Editorial: Bring Fena to the table
The Marianas Variety
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The 4th Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands concluded yesterday with promises by federal and military officials that the U.S. would be doing all it can to help out Guam as it prepares for the coming buildup.
The Joint Guam Program Office stressed that the military aims to take into consideration the welfare of the local community at all times and consult with the people to make sure that its land use planning does not adversely affect residents.
And yet, the Navy decided at the beginning of this month to proceed with its Fena water rate hike without as much as a “by your leave” and despite strong opposition from the government of Guam.
The Navy’s attitude was very cavalier and high-handed. Is the Fena water rate hike a sign of things to come when it comes to the military’s actions on Guam?
The rate hike was a unilateral decision on the Navy’s part, and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and the Guam Waterworks Authority were not even given a chance to influence the Navy decision.
The Navy has said it needs to increase rates because its cost of producing water from Fena has gone up.
But CCU studies have shown that GWA can do a better job of managing the Fena plant and produce water at a lower rate.
Yet, when the GovGuam agencies brought this up with the military, the Navy virtually thumbed its nose and arrogantly went on with the increase, haughtily informing everybody that it will increase the Fena water rate further next year.
Understandably, this action by the Navy has caught the ire of the Legislature.
Sen. Tony Unpingco, a true son of the south, has expressed disappointment in the Navy’s decision and is asking for the suspension of the water rate hike plan.
He pointed out that the Navy decision may become the linchpin in whether the proposed military buildup continues to receive widespread community support.
We believe the island’s water belongs to the people of Guam and that the local government has the right to use all the island’s water resources.
We need to renew our bid to reclaim Fena and now is the best time to do it while the military needs Guam for its expansion.
This may be the only time that we have a big bargaining chip in the negotiating table and we must try to get every concession that we can from the military.
We say bring Fena to the table so that we won’t suffer the ignominy of paying higher rates for our own water.
And let’s support CCU, which says it plans to bring the Fena issue to the attention of federal authorities in Washington, D.C.
If this is how the military treats us now, when the buildup has hardly begun, imagine what they would do when the military expansion is in earnest.
The time to bargain with the military is now.