13 Feb 2008

EPA says Saipan has worst water problems in US

4:13 pm on 13 February 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or EPA says the Northern Marianas capital, Saipan has among the worst water problems in the nation.

The island's water system was cited four times for health-based violations in the last half of 2007.

These violations involve bacterial contamination and nitrates in the water.

The manager of the EPA's Pacific Islands Office, John McCarroll, told politicians that's too many violations.

In the rest of the United States, 96 percent of water systems have not had any violation in a year.

Mr McCarroll also noted that the CNMI has had 44 health-based violations since 2001.

There was 15-month period-from 2006 to 2007-during which Saipan had zero violations.

But since the last half of 2007, the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation or CUC has had four water violations.

He noted that the violations coincided with CUC's financial problems.

CUC is now working with EPA on a stipulated court order that will force the utility to fix problems in Saipan's water system within an agreed upon timeline.