A Guam landowner is claiming development of his Urunao properties is still being delayed because of alleged unpaid use of water by former governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez .

Guam’s attorney general said water service to Urunao will not be returned until all investigations concerning illegal use of the water are completed.

Antonio Artero Sablan is the owner of the land that Baba Corp. is leasing for Coco Palm Garden Beach in Urunao and other land in the area that he has plans to develop.

He said he is a victim of circumstance and the water will not be turned on because of that. “I feel like they don’t want to do it. I was told by a very high political official that until the issue of the former governor’s trial is put to rest I would never see the water turned back on.”

“Time has passed and I feel that the issue concerning the former governor has already been adjudicated and we want the water turned back on.”

Douglas B. Moylan attorney general said water usage in the region is still under investigation.

“Right now I don’t think GWA has the obligation to provide them (landowners) any further water services — given the situation and the investigatory nature — and the civil dispute that has arisen. I don’t think anyone is going to get any water until all parties are satisfied under the discussions they are having ” Moylan said.

For almost three years landowners in Urunao have had to do without running water. This predicament not only affects private landowners but also businesses such as Baba Corp. which owns the Coco Palm Garden Beach.

In February 2003 David E. R. Craddick general manager of the Guam Waterworks Authority passed through Urunao and stumbled upon a water line. Craddick told the Journal “Whoever built the line it didn’t look like they knew what they were doing because it was full of leaks.” Soon after Craddick discovered it service to the area was shut off.

Sablan said he has discussed the issue with GWA since the date of disconnection. He said he is trying to get the water turned back on.

According to Sablan when the water was shut off he was in the process of applying for a metered connection for the construction of the Baba Corp. facility. Since then he said Baba Corp. continues to do without running water. According to information given to the Journal in November 2004 Baba Corp. has to haul in water with tanks on a pickup and a trailer and store it in two 3 000-gallon tanks. The Baba Corp. facility requires an average of four water-trips a day to a metered source 13 miles away where the water is collected. Sablan said that safety is an issue when more than 3 000 gallons of water a day are taken by truck over roads in poor condition.

Craddick said it would cost an estimated $500 000 to repair the leaks in the pipe.

Sablan said “We have volunteered to help contribute to pay for capital improvements and we are even willing to pay above and beyond the regular fee meaning an added premium.”

Craddick said “The possibility of making back payments was also brought up but in order to come up with a solution all of the Urunao landowners have to get together and agree on a solution much like the Tiyan landowners did”

Moylan told the Journal that there are two parts to the Urunao water situation civil and criminal. “Criminally if a landowner did not benefit from the illegal water connection then he or she shouldn’t be held responsible.” However it will be difficult to figure out who benefited from the illegal connection because according to Craddick there has never been any effort to find out who was benefiting from the illegal connection and who wasn’t.

Urunao consists of about 435 acres of land. Sablan and his siblings own approximately 72 acres. Sablan told the Journal that he and his siblings took a portion of their land and leased it out to the Coco Palm Garden Beach and there are other plans to develop Urunao. “Without naming any names over the past three months I have been in discussion with a group of investors. The investors are interested in putting in a cultural center. People are always giving me suggestions on what to do with the land.”

Sablan is an advocate for eco-tourism and said that is what Urunao has to offer. “We don’t want to molest the environment. The development of Urunao has been personally manicured with great care. We worked very closely with the historical preservation scientists during construction of the Garden to make sure that any historical remnants were left intact. That is why the end result was that instead of digging into the ground to build the foundation for the garden an inverted foundation was built. The foundation is above the soil leaving any historical remains intact ” he said.

Sablan is eager to get the water turned back on. “With the water turned back on we can try to entice the development of an area that could offer so much to the economy and Guam’s tourism. More people would be willing to build houses in Urunao and development offers employment as well as revenue for the government of Guam.” MBJ