Saturday, November 28, 2009

Infrastructure and population boom questioned

Infrastructure and population boom questioned

Posted: Nov 26, 2009 4:58 PM PST

by Michele Catahay

It's clear the increase in population due to the military buildup will cause issues with power, water and wastewater systems. While it has only been several days since the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, officials continue to question costs and whether the hefty population loads could be accommodated.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairperson Simon Sanchez says he's been able to read halfway through portions of the DEIS. His personal reaction is that he's quite alarmed by the population figures, as the Department of Defense has projected an increase of an additional 80,000 people.

"In the last 90 days, our conversations with DoD have been focused on much smaller power loads and wastewater loads that reflect much smaller population figures. I think that's the first battlefield for us, to make sure we understand the projections because we're being told much lower loads, which means less power upgrades, less transmission and distribution upgrades, less water and wastewater upgrades that might be needed," said Sanchez.

He says upgrades should be paid for by DoD. In the EIS, the feds outlined a list of proposed long-term alternatives for power. Such include:

1. New power plant at Cabras/Piti location
2. New power plant at Potts Junction
3. Power supplied by the Guam Power Authority

The chairman continued, "It looks like we might be able to get three to five of our existing generators upgraded and paid for by DoD. And that's a benefit to us existing ratepayers because that's an upgrade we would normally have to pay for but we think the buildup can pay for and that would provide more reliable service and more stable power generation for the community."

Sanchez says it's important that transmission and distribution systems are upgraded from Cabras up until Finegayan, to other parts in Barrigada and Mangilao. The same goes for water and wastewater. "On the wastewater side," he explained, "we believe the final decision would be to become a GWA customer. Andersen Air Force Base is a customer, the Marines will also be a customer. They would use our northern wastewater treatment plant. And our contention is that they need to pay for the upgrades necessary to carry the bigger load."

For wastewater, the long-term alternative would be to add a new DoD only standalone primary/secondary treatment facility on DoD land at Finegayan. While for water, alternatives include the development of Lost River, desalination of brackish water, the dredging of sediment from the Navy reservoir to the increase storage capacity.

"The EIS talks about 33 wells. So clearly, they're looking at more population than more recent conversations we've had. We still think it's going to be closer to 22 wells instead of 33 wells for the buildup. We also have civilian needs for wells. Something like 15 wells," he said.

In the meantime, Sanchez says he will be meeting with officials from GPA and GWA in hopes to collectively file questions in light of conversations on the Draft EIS.

No comments: