National Public Works to assist
By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) Sewer overflow at Malakal, particularly near Carp Restaurant and Koror State Rangers Office has stopped, according to PPUC CEO Kione Isechal in his report to Palau national leadership meeting yesterday.
PPUC CEO Isechal reported that PPUC and national Public Works employees worked over the weekend to repair the pump at the “Sisco” area in Malakal. The repair is temporary while they send out a major part for repair.
“The part needs to be repaired outside of Palau and because it exceeded airline weight limit, it had to be sent by ship to Taiwan. The turn-around time for this is about 30 days,” stated CEO Isechal.
“Of the 48 pump stations in Koror, the 7 with problems are being addressed. One pump has just arrived and was installed last Thursday and one is too big to put on the plane so it is being sent via ship and is expected in 2 to 3 weeks. That pump will replace the one at Ngesekes near SDA School,” added CEO Isechal.
“Wet wells at Ngell, Delui, Ikesiil, Ngesekes, and Deleb are being pumped daily using a vacuum truck. Deleb and Ngesekes are still overflowing despite daily pumping due to large population concentrated in these areas,” reported PPUC PIO Johnny Kintaro. “The new pump that we expect in 2 to 3 weeks will help resolve the Ngesekes problem,” added Kintaro. These are the areas with pump problems.
“Sewer is still flowing from the treatment plant at Malakal to the ocean” replied CEO Kione Isechal to President Remengesau’s inquiry. “This is due to the fact that there is obstruction in the system and unless we lower the level of the tank, we cannot reach pipe to fix the problem,” added PPUC CEO. “We have requested EQPB numerous times to allow us to drain the tank so that we can fix the problem but we have not received approval from them. This is not raw sewage, but the last tank in the treatment process.”
According to Isechal, they will need to drain about 2 million gallons of treated sewage to reach the section that requires repair.
Senator Surangel Jr. questioned whether the decision is between short term environmental damage versus long term.
Public Work Director Brian Melairei stated that there is a way the obstruction can be cleared without draining the tank into the ocean and President Remengesau Jr. offered for national Public Work to take on this responsibility of fixing the overflow from the treatment plant for PPUC while PPUC concentrate on the sewer pump issues.
Questions as to why the sewer pump problems were not addressed earlier, PPUC replied that it was an issue of funding and time. “The pumps did not all go out at once. We had discussed and decided to just maintain the existing pumps rather than purchasing new ones since the new sewer project will include new pumps as well as new piping system,” stated CEO Isechal.
“We now had to loan funds from the power section of the PPUC to purchase new pumps for the sewer system,” said Isechal. “We had requested OEK number of times for funding and we have only received partial funding,” he added.
Debate ensued between Senator Hokkons and Senator Surangel Whipps Jr. as to who is responsible. “The requests from PPUC to OEK have never asked for funding for new sewer pumps. It has been funding for other things,” added Senator Hokkons.
“There’s enough blame to go around,” stated President Remengesau. “We should instead be looking to see what we can do to help resolve the problems. We have offered to take on the treatment plant overflow issue. And if funding requests comes, OEK and Executive will all put in our efforts,” he added.
President Remengesau urged PPUC to keep the public informed. “We should do our best to keep the public informed of every situation, what is happening, what we are doing to fix the problem and what is needed to get it done. If we don’t, the public will think we have neglected the problems.”
“We admit that we did not do well to keep the public informed and we will do our best to keep the public informed from now on,” assured PPUC PIO Kintaro in an interview.
Portions of the Sewer Improvement Project bids to replace pumps and piping from “Sisco” area in Malakal to CIP area and from CIP to Topside have been approved. Construction is expected to complete by next year. Other portions of the Sewer Project include a new sewer treatment plant in Malakal and one in Airai as well as management contract of both plants for a year. [/restrict]