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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Palau Utilities, Public Works Entities Fight Over Water Issues
Public works allegedly blame PPUC for outages

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Jan. 28, 2013) – Palau’s Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) blasted the Bureau of Public Works (BPW) for blaming them for recent water issues.

PPUC Information Officer Tmetuchl Baules yesterday said their office has been flooded since the weekend with phone calls from the public, especially from Malakal and Madalaii areas, because of water outages. When the water came back, it was brown in color because of the dirt that accumulated in the pipes.

The callers reportedly said that they have been advised by the BPW that PPUC is causing the water problems because PPUC generators consume great amount of water.

Baules said it is not true that there is not enough water that goes to the residences and other consumers because PPUC is using all the water to run the generators in order to supply power.

"The city water supply is so low that there is no water reaching the generators at all," Baules said.

According to Baules, Surangel Construction has been delivering water to PPUC for about two months already by the end of this month.

Baules disclosed an invoice from Surangel Construction wherein PPUC was charged $21,187.50 for the water delivery for one month only, from November 30, 2012 to December 31, 2012. Next invoice is expected to arrive by the end of this month.

Baules said the Malakal Power Plant does not get any water from the city lines at this time. It is the Surangel Construction, he said, that continues to supply water to PPUC since the BPW is unable to solve this problem and does not know what to do.

Baules said some callers even asked PPUC to shut off the generators just so they will have water for shower or whatever. But Baules insisted that PPUC is not the cause of the problem.

He explained that only the new Niigata generators are using a cooling tower system that cools the engines so water is supplied there. However, since there is no water, one Niigata engine has been shut off and Surangel provides water for that tank.

The rest of the engines, Baules said, use radiators and this means that the water is recycled in the units. "This is something Public Works Director doesn’t understand," Baules added.

Baules said BPW should stop giving "misinformation" to the public.

He said PPUC has not even received any engineering reports or any assessments from a qualified engineer that does in fact verify that this water issue is caused by PPUC's generators.

Baules disclosed that PPUC’s Chief Financial Officer indicated that if the water problem is prolonged and PPUC continues to buy water from Surangel Corporation, the cost will have to be put into the rates as cost for delivery of power.

Information gathered by Island Times revealed that the BPW shut down the water from Airai to Koror late Friday and Saturday nights to early morning of Saturday and Sunday to locate leaks in the system as there has been low water pressure recently in some areas in Koror.

Island Times tried to get the side of BPW Director Techur Rengulbai on the water situation but he refused to comment. Rengulbai said the bureau is still working on identifying the problem with water and will issue statement later on.

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