Guam EPA issues specific advisory for Toguan Bay given sewage overflow

07 September 2012

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (Guam EPA) today issued the standard weekly beach report with a specific advisory regarding the Toguan River and Bay in Umatac.

According to reports received today from the Guam Waterworks Authority, the sewage lagoon at the Umatac/Merizo Wastewater Treatment Plant began to overflow from the emergency spillway pipe into the Toguan River on Aug. 23. The overflow stopped for a period on Aug. 26 and resumed the following day and continues at this time. The reports note that the bypass flow is approximately 6,000 gallons per day. The estimated daily plant flow is 700,000 in this kind of weather.

Raw sewage poses significant threat to the environment and increases public health risks. Residents are advised to stay out of the Toguan River and Bay until the situation has been resolved. Guam EPA is consulting with the Department of Public Health to determine if the beach needs to be closed to recreational activities until normal operations at the treatment plant resume.

According to the advisory, “this area should be avoided until further notice. Guam EPA will announce when the advisory is lifted on the Agency’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account.” To view the entire advisory visit our weekly Beach Advisory page.

“Raw, untreated waste poses a threat to the environment by altering the natural state of water and nutrients required by marine ecosystems to survive. This type of untreated sewage also poses a significant threat to public health as it increases the potential exposure to more dangerous pathogens,” said Eric M. Palacios, administrator of Guam EPA. “ We know that large amounts of rain can overwhelm our wastewater treatment systems and the usage of engineered overflow systems can impact recreational waters. Guam EPA will be working with GWA to ensure a timely reporting protocol is followed for this type of situation in the interest of the environment and public health.”

Swimming, fishing or playing in unsafe waters may result in minor illnesses such as sore throats or diarrhea. It might also result in more serious illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis, or severe gastroenteritis. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of getting sick when they come in contact with contaminated water.

For more information about the advisory contact Guam EPA’s Public Information Officer Tammy Jo Anderson Taft at 475-1646, 988-7582 or email at TammyJoAnderson.Taft@epa.guam.gov.