22 new wells
Monday, 30 November 2009 04:28
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff
DoD urged to seek local permit for water projects
THE Department of Defense plans to install 22 new water wells in Andersen Air Force Base to meet future water requirements resulting from impending military growth, according to the draft environmental impact statement for the Guam military buildup.
The water facility development plan also involves rehabilitation of existing wells and interconnection with the Guam Waterworks Authority’s system.
The proposed new well projects, according to the impact report, would draw water from the Andersen and Agafa-Gumas sub basins, which are currently underdeveloped.
Senator Ben Pangelinan, meanwhile, reminds the defense department that any water development project to be built anywhere on Guam requires a local permit.
“The law was passed to ensure that, when the military buildup occurs, the water supply for the civilian community is not threatened,” said Pangelinan, author of the water rights protection bill signed as Public Law 29-51.
P.L. 29-51 declares that all ground and underground water resources all over Guam are under local control, with the local civilian population having the first priority use. All water development projects require “expressed authorization” from GWA, according to the law.
Pangelinan said the law also applies to water resources that lie within any military-owned property or any site where DoD, the government of Guam and private landowners have overlapping claims.
“I introduced that law in anticipation of the military’s efforts to claim the water within the aquifer. All the water resources, no matter where they are located, belong to the people of Guam,” Pangelinan told Variety
The senator has asked the Attorney General’s Office to prepare an opinion in defense of the Guam water rights law.
According to the impact study, the proposed well construction projects would result in the potential temporary increase in storm water runoff, erosion, sedimentation.
“The construction would involve land disturbing activities greater than an acre in size that would trigger the requirement for a construction storm water permit,” the study stated.
The military states assurance that these potential impacts would be minimized through the implementation of “best management practices.”
While the plan to install new water wells is not project to affect the wetlands, the study indicated that increased groundwater withdrawals could potentially impact water levels in caves located along the shorelines of Guam.
“The cave and pool systems may be considered jurisdictional waters of the U.S.,” the impact study said, “thus any potential impacts to the system would be discussed and potentially permitted by the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers].
Installing 20 new water wells at AAFB and 11 in Barrigada is another option being considered by DoD, but the first option has been identified in the study as the “preferred alternative.”