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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a total of $3.2 million in three grants to the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
"The funding will be put to good use by CUC to improve drinking water systems and ensure proper wastewater disposal," said John McCarroll, manager of the EPA Pacific Southwest Region's Pacific Islands Office. "Providing a reliable supply of drinking water to the CNMI residents is critical. Additionally, it is important to protect public health, the environment and ocean resources of CNMI."
An additional $1.1 million was added to an existing EPA grant, for a total of $2.1 million, for the design and construction of an ocean outfall for the Aginan wastewater plant. The project will cost about $6.9 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and CUC are also sharing in the costs.
The new outfall will discharge treated effluent further offshore and at a greater depth. The CUC is currently under an administrative order by the EPA. The completed project will allow the plant to comply with its EPA discharge permit.
The EPA is also funding a $1.55 million project for the rehabilitation and extension of the Kanat Tabla waterline and the construction and rehabilitation of nearby water tanks. Officials will construct a new one million gallon drinking water storage tank; rehabilitate an existing one million gallon water tank; and replace water supply lines in the area. The improvements will provide increased water hours and water pressure to customers in the area.
The EPA is providing $550,000 for rehabilitation of the drinking water sand filtration system at the airport, which will provide safer drinking water for CUC's customers. The current sand filter system requires a complete overhaul including upgrades and replacement of water pumps and pump control systems to meet all drinking water standards.
All three projects are currently in the design phase, and construction should begin in 2005.