March 26, 2008
Sewage closes beaches: Pump problems cause wastewater overflow
By Stephanie Godlewski
Pacific Daily News
The putrid smell of wastewater greeted drivers on Route 1 in Tamuning yesterday after manhole covers were overflowing in the street.
Portions of the nearby beach area were closed after the sewage got into the water that many spent the day swimming in.
Guam Waterworks Authority crews closed the center southbound lane of Marine Corps Drive near the Pizza Hut intersection around 11:30 a.m. to work on pumping the water out.
One worker on site, Tony Cruz, said there was a problem at the Hagåtña pump station, which caused the wastewater to back up into the street.
GWA spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf said there was a breakdown in service at the station, but that it was back up and running around 1:30 p.m.
The backed-up sewage was caused by multiple factors, said Julie Shane, GWA wastewater engineer.
"This overflow is due to a combination of work at the pump station and problems with lines coming out of Tamuning," Shane said. "However, we managed to get the pump station back online quickly, and our crews did an excellent job in an emergency situation. Some overflow did reach the river by Jimmy Dee's, and we have notified the Guam Environmental Protection Agency."
One resident in the area was frustrated because the wastewater got into a popular swimming spot, but no signs were put up to warn swimmers of what was in the water.
David Stone of Tamuning said he was upset there was no warning about sewage contaminating the water in the area.
Stone said he didn't even realize the sewage was being pumped in until later, when he took a walk and noticed GWA crews pumping wastewater.
"There were no signs on the beach. There should have been signs on the beach warning swimmers," Stone said.
The resident said when he approached a nearby beach club where tourists were frolicking in the water and notified management of the situation, no one had been informed.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency issued a beach closure for a portion of East Hagåtña Bay. The closure extends from Dungca's beach to the Alupang Beach Tower.
A beach advisory is in effect for Sleepy Lagoon Beach and Trinchera Beach. The advisory asks residents not to wade within 400 yards of the areas.
Guam EPA spokeswoman Tammy Anderson said the closure will be in place until bacteriological samples taken from the water are back to safe levels.
The closure was ordered because of the leakage of sewer water, Anderson said. Anderson said a test will be done on the water today.
She said it's unclear whether GWA will be fined for the overflow.
"It's under investigation," Anderson said. "It's too early to tell if we'll be issuing a citation."