Monday, November 30, 2009

Guam's Draft EIS Forces Power-Water Rethink

Guam's Draft EIS Forces Power-Water Rethink

Written by Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Monday, 30 November 2009 14:13

GUAM - The recently released draft EIS for the Guam military buildup is raising intriguing questions about the island government's capacity to distribute adequate power and water during periods when habitation is expected to rise to all-time highs and then drop precipitously when construction activity winds down. This new document is also compelling a search for answers about who will pay for the extra capacity needed and who will finance its maintenance or resizing once peak periods level off.

In a recent interview with KUAM news, Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chair Simon Sanchez expressed concern about the population numbers estimated for what is termed 'the surge years.'

According to the draft EIS, during 2014 and 2015, Guam can expect as many as 18,300 temporary laborers and 19,500 Marines and their families to be on Guam. Total population increases for this short period will peak at more than 79,000. It is unclear to Sanchez why the laborers who will be building the base and base housing are required to be on island at the same time as the full contingent of Marines and their families. What would these workers be doing, if the Marine base will already be fully populated and operational?

According to Sanchez, discussions to this point have been focused on the long term needs of both the military and the island community and that those discussions have been positive. However, these talks have not specifically addressed these short surge years. The question remains, how does Guam accommodate the power and water needs of this huge population growth for a two-year period and then adjust to meet the needs of a population decrease of as many as 46,000 two years later without being left with an overcapacity of infrastructure that someone will still have to pay for?

Given the extremely aggressive buildup time lines, it is critical that these discussions begin. Sanchez and his team have spent the last two weeks reviewing the EIS and will meet to discuss next steps once the review is completed.

Jeff Marchesseault contributed to this analysis.

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