Interior and EPA Leverage Funding and Expertise in Support of Clean Water and Utility Efficiency in the Freely Associated States

Last edited 11/30/2020
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech announced $876,465 in fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding to leverage engineering experts from the Bureau of Reclamation at the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Region 9 for several water and utility projects in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau, collectively known as the freely associated states (FAS). Experts will provide on-the-ground technical assistance to assess and improve the Nanpil hydropower plant in Pohnpei, strengthen water delivery at the Majuro Water and Sewer Company in Majuro, improve water treatment plants across Palau, and provide training and water quality lab certifications across all three FAS.

“We are pleased to support these projects that help assure water quality as well as improve the delivery of water and power in the freely associated states,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “This support directly benefits people and businesses alike and demonstrates the importance of the relationship we share under the Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. We appreciate that the U.S. Congress continues to provide the assistance that we are able to extend to these island areas.”

“Reclamation has a long, successful history of delivering reliable water supplies and low-cost, renewable hydropower in the West,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Collaborating with the FAS exemplifies the value of innovative, local water resource management; leveraging federal and non-federal partnerships; and delivering water treatment solutions, dependable water supplies and hydropower, which collectively help support local communities.”

“EPA is proud of its partnership with the Department of the Interior to help provide safe drinking water for the people of the freely associated states,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Working together we’re better able to safeguard water quality in these islands.”

The projects supported through the $876,465 provided in FY 2019 are described in detail as follows. It is hoped that the first three projects, leveraged with Bureau of Reclamation expertise, will begin early in calendar year 2020. These three projects were announced by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt at the Pacific Islands Forum Partners Dialogue in Tuvalu this past August. While the FAS Water Quality project leveraging USEPA expertise is ongoing, funding provided is only for FY 2019.


  • Improve Efficiencies at Nanpil River Hydropower Plant, Pohnpei – The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) will provide technical assistance to the Pohnpei Utility Corporation (PUC) on improving site inspections, operation and maintenance, and overall efficiency at the Nanpil River Hydropower Plant in Pohnpei. Four BOR employees will conduct scoping and inspection, and provide classroom-style training along with site inspections. BOR will also provide a written report with recommendations to the PUC based on its findings during inspection. Designed and planned in 1985 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the site of an old hydropower plant built by Japan during WWII, the Nanpil River Hydropower Project was designed with a total plant capacity of 1,700 kilowatts and is a run-of-the-river design powerhouse with headwater level control designed to operate in parallel with Pohnpei's existing diesel power generating system.


  • Create a Hydraulic Model of the MWSC for Training -  BOR design and engineering experts will create a hydraulic model of the water and sewer system on Majuro which can then be used to run simulations, identify deficiencies, and propose improvements and modifications to the existing system. Proposed improvements could include population and water demand projections, storage capacity requirements, fire flow analysis, or “what-if” scenarios. BOR will also provide assistance with Geographic Information System (GIS) data development.


  • Assess Water Treatment Facilities – Three BOR engineers will observe, monitor, and assess the existing water treatment processes at approximately 17 water treatment facilities throughout Palau. The BOR team will compile collected data into a trip/assessment report.


  • FAS USEPA Engineer Circuit Rider and Water Quality Laboratory Certification Program – Funds will support a USEPA engineer to travel to the FSM, RMI, and Palau to support clean water as well as continue the USEPA laboratory certification program in each of the FAS which utilizes regular follow-up quality assurance visits and re-certification audits to ensure laboratories on each island maintains high standards for water quality. Each of the laboratories is connected to utilities on the main islands of Pohnpei, Kosrae, Weno, Yap, Majuro, and Koror and are the most populated islands in the FAS, totaling a little over 100,000 people. The FY 2019 assistance includes funding for USEPA travel to each of these areas to support safe drinking water and provide the necessary on-the-ground training and certification. A similar program is funded through USEPA in each of the U.S. territories.

Each of the Freely Associated States has a close and special relationship under a Compact of Free Association agreement with the United States. For more information on funding assistance available through the Office of Insular Affairs, visit the OIA website at

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.


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