Senator says DOD projects threatening safety of Guam's drinking water
The Department of Defense's activities are causing the contamination of Northern Guam lens aquifer, which supplies 80 percent of the island's drinking water, according to Sen. Sabina Perez.
Guam's drinking water is threatened by irreparable harm that may result from the Department of Defense’s development of the live-fire training range complex and related projects, Perez said.
“The location of bases near or on top of water sources that supply most of the island population threatens the health of the current populace, both military and civilian,” Perez said.
She cited the military's plans to fire 6.7 million rounds of ammunition each year, for an indefinite amount of time, which she said poses "a very serious threat of lead and other forms of contamination."
Perez on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for urgent support for the protection of the people of Guam’s right to safe drinking water from lead and other sources of contamination.
“Access to safe drinking water is a basic and fundamental human right recognized by the United Nations, and for the people of our non-self-governing territory, it is under serious threat," Perez said
“Water is the source of life for the CHamoru people and everyone who calls Guam home,” Perez said. “We must be protectors of our water resources and do everything we can to ensure our future generations will inherit a healthy and sustainable island.”
Resolution 86-36 observes the theme of this year’s World Water Day, “valuing water.”
Studies indicate children, infants, and fetuses are most susceptible to the effects of lead contamination. Even at low exposure levels, lead is extremely toxic to the body.
Cancer rates on Guam continue to remain one of the leading causes of death for the island community due to military activity in and around the Pacific.
Recent studies similarly link firing ranges to contamination, calling into question the rationality of the military’s continued pursuit of the buildup.
“These studies did not yet exist when the EIS was completed, and it is only right that they be fully applied to the actions and decisions that are being made,” Perez said. “The consequences of these actions will be long-term and irreversible, and it is our people who will be most at risk.”
Resolution 86-36 also calls on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, to undertake official visits in Guam relevant to their mandates.
“We are blessed with this land and our natural resources because of the efforts of our ancestors. As we continue to look for solutions to climate change we must reflect on what it means to live with inafa’maolek with one another, and with our natural environment,” Perez said.
“I’m therefore calling on the local, national and international communities to address the systemic threats to our rights to safe drinking water.”