Struggling CNMI utility told to build up financial reserves

6:54 pm on 6 March 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation in the Northern Marianas to build up its financial reserves so it can pay for a drinking water and wastewater master plan.

Water is a precious resource in the Pacific Islands.

Water is a precious resource in the Pacific Islands. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The EPA said the financial reserves were needed for emergency operations and maintenance.

It also said the utility must have an interim financial plan and a final financial plan that would generate enough revenue to cover compliance activities, the stipulated orders, and measures necessary to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

And it needed an EPA-approved comprehensive drinking water and wastewater master plan to determine infrastructure needs for a 20-year period, and to provide a long-term plan for the utility's drinking water and wastewater system improvements.

The utility has struggled with debt for many years, often because other government agencies did not, or could not, pay their bills.

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