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U.S. EPA orders GWA to repair broken sewer main to Northern District Wastewater Plant

Release Date: 10/01/2010
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(10/01/10) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday issued a compliance order to the Guam Waterworks Authority to take immediate steps to repair a broken sewer force main located near the Southern Link Sewage Lift Station in Dededo, Guam.

GWA has two weeks to repair or replace the broken 36-inch diameter force main and eliminate any wastewater spills resulting from the break. The utility needs to ensure all wastewater from the force main is contained and properly treated, and monitor a nearby drinking water well for impacts of spilled sewage.

“This is a major break, with the potential for a large volume of raw sewage to leach into the ground or flood the road,” said Alexis Strauss, water director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “GWA's delay in reporting the break and its lack of timely response has exposed the public to untreated sewage. They need to move as fast as possible to fix this public health hazard.”

GWA has built a lined pond and trench to collect the leaking sewage for transport and treatment at the Northern District plant. It needs to maintain the pond, trench and treat the sewage until the force main is fixed. The order requires signs warning the public of the sewage spill and creation of a barricade to prevent the public from entering areas contaminated by sewage. EPA is concerned that truck traffic will exacerbate the break and result in a complete failure of the force main.

The order requires GWA to submit plans to EPA for repairing or replacing the force main. By the end of October, GWA will submit to EPA its emergency response and cleanup procedures addressing any future sewage spills. Monthly spill reports on all sewage spills will be required, along with notice to Guam EPA and EPA of all spills greater than 100 gallons.

Force mains are pressurized pipes which carry sewage from residences, as well as commercial and industrial sources, to wastewater treatment plants. Because force mains operate under pressure, even a small break can result in a large spill and a lengthy repair job.

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