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Guam senator warns against railroading septic shortcut proposal

 


By Pacific Island Times News Staff

 

Sen. Sabina Flores Perez on Tuesday slammed Sen. Chris Duenas' alleged attempts to railroad his septic systems bill, which environment officials warned could result in the contamination of Guam's water sources.


“Rushing a bill out of committee without proper vetting undermines the good faith efforts of legislative debates that are intended to promote transparency and accountability as elected leaders," said Perezm chair of the environment committee.


She said the committee needs to tackle Bill 175-37 at an appropriate pace given the impacts that the bill will have on the environment, the Northern Guam lens aquifer and the people's health.


The bill would allow the development of unsewered property by linking to existing sewer systems.


"Bill 175-37 aims to drastically increase the density of septic systems over our aquifer," Perez said, stressing that environment officials have noted that the lack of scientific evidence to demonstrate that the bill’s proposal is safe, beneficial, and practical.


At the bill's public hearing, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency testified that an increase in the density of septic systems, especially over the groundwater protection zone, would cost ratepayers millions of dollars per water well to treat contaminated water.


"The public should not bear the risks associated with high-density unsewered 

development over our aquifer," Perez said, quoting GEPA.


Guam Waterworks Authority pointed out that the bill does not contain any data demonstrating no adverse impact to the sole source aquifer resulting from an increase in the development density.


GWA further testified that “such an action would lead to significant degradation to the NGLA and ignores the potential for even further contamination from emerging contaminants for which no studies or data yet exist to preclude the possibility of further PFAS contamination of groundwater sources."


Perez said the Bureau of Statistics and Plans's Coastal Management Program has warned that piecemeal parceling is a common tactic by private developers to circumvent the subdivision requirement to manage stormwater, which can result in increased flooding threats to Guam’s urban areas without proper stormwater infrastructure.

 

Meanwhile, the Guam Association of Realtors issued a statement endorsing 175-37 and 51-37 "with the understanding that amendments may be adopted on the session floor."


"Members of the Guam Association of Realtors have collaborated openly and honestly over the course of multiple legislative terms to resolve these particular property law issues facing our people - and we watched with disappointment today as a senator who committed to reporting Bill 175-37 in time for this month's session voted against its inclusion when pressed by its author," said Neat Muna, GAR president.


Muna said action on the proposed measures is imperative, noting that

development has been stalled under the current laws and regulations.


"We urge our lawmakers to embrace technology and help ensure a cleaner Guam, and to hear the will of landowners who cannot build on their property because of outdated laws," Muna said.


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