Thu. Feb 27th, 2020

PPUC explains sewer overflows due to old system caving in 

The Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) aired its side regarding previous complaints on sewer overflow, saying that this is a result of the decades-old sewer system in Malakal that is finally deteriorating through time.

PPUC Administration Director Tmetuchl Baules reiterated to the Times that the sewer overflow is not an issue of lack of inaction from their office or of neglect but is merely the result of an old system finally caving in.

Constant rains and flooding coupled with an old system overwhelms it, hence the overflow, the PPUC explained.

Baules together with Civil Engineer and Chief Procurement Officer Sofronio Mahor explained that the system has been in existence since the early 1980s.

“This thing is built before we were born. This is very old,” Baules said.

This, however, does not mean they’re not doing anything to act on the problem as the PPUC is looking at several options to solve the overflow, Baules explained, adding that doing so will cost them money.

Baules explained that with the on-going Koror-Airai Sanitation Project (KASP), which is said to help improve the system and solve the overflows, it does not also make sense for the PPUC to purchase a new trickling filter that will replace the dilapidated one.

“That’s why the only thing we can do at the moment is do these band-aid repairs of the old system…(inaudible). If the KASP is done, then we’ll have a much better system,” Baules said.

The PPUC instead has resorted to do vacuum tracking and monitoring to provide remedy to the problem while the KASP is still underway.

“So if it looks like it’s overflowing, what they’re (engineers) doing is vacuum tracking and monitor[ing]. That’s all we can do now until KASP is done,” Baules said.

Apart from that, some engineering solutions are also considered to solve the issue but initiating it will be a challenge for the office as it will require time and expenses.

“Now, it’s a little bit important that we tell the people that PPUC may only have enough money to sustain itself until March 2020 unless we get subsidies or at least we adjust our tariffs,” Baules said, explaining prior to this that while they have some subsidies, these are only meant for operating expenses.

PPUC said that they were supposed to adjust the tariffs or at least increase it by October 1 this year, but he said it has been extended to October 2020.

“So another problem is we don’t have money. So the only thing we can do is put these designs together and maybe ask OEK (Congress) for some funds,” Baules explained.