U.S. Water News Online
HAGATNA, Guam -- Guam's water system is so contaminated and
unsafe that the federal government says it is seeking a court order
to force the utility to produce safe drinking water and to properly
dispose of wastewater and sewage.
The Justice Department, along with the U.S. Attorney in Guam and
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, filed a complaint in U.S.
District Court against the Guam Waterworks Authority.
It charged the utility and the U.S. territory's government with
repeated violations of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking
Water Act, including wastewater discharges that exceed water quality
standards and standards for fecal bacteria.
``The people and environment of Guam are at serious risk,'' said
Frederick Black, U.S. Attorney for the District of Guam. ``We will
ask the court to take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard
The EPA planned to file the complaint before two typhoons --
Typhoon Chataan in July and Typhoon Pongsona two weeks ago -- struck
The government said the utility's three wastewater treatment
plants have a long history of failing to meet permit limits for
pollutants discharged from the plants. The agency's wastewater system
is run down and often results in sewage spills throughout the system
and bypasses raw sewage at the treatment plants, it said in a
The utility's inadequate chlorination system further increases the
public health risk by failing to control pathogens in the drinking
water, officials said.
``In Guam, the drinking water system is so dilapidated that the
choice is either no water or contaminated water,'' said Wayne Nastri,
the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
Guam Waterworks operates three public water systems to provide
drinking water and several wastewater treatment plants to collect and
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