HAGATNA, Guam --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) signed a feasibility cost-share agreement (FCSA) with the government of Guam to initiate a civil works study, investigating ways to reduce the risk of flooding to Hagatna, Guam. Funding is provided in Public Law 116-20, through the Additional Supplemental Appropriations Disaster Relief Act, 2019, signed into law June 6, 2019. The appropriation assists with the recovery and resiliency-building efforts throughout the U.S. Pacific Territories in response to major storms affecting the region between 2017 and 2019.
At a ceremony held March 10 in Hagatna, Honolulu District Commander Lt. Col. Kathryn Sanborn and Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed the Agana River (Hagatna River Flood Control) flood risk management study agreement. The three-year, $3 million study is 100 percent federally funded and will be managed by Honolulu District’s Civil and Public Works branch.
"I'm very excited that the Army Corps of Engineers is taking on this project," said Gov. Guerrero. "I want the people of Guam to know the importance of this (agreement) as we've been for almost 40 years trying to revitalize Hagatna. We've been at a stalemate in terms of expanding businesses in Hagatna because of the flood zone…this feasibility (study) will be able to reveal some of those challenges with the way river flows, which hampers any kind of expansion with our businesses."
According to Honolulu District’s civil works branch, the study will focus on significant flood inundation damages and road closures within the Agana River floodplain during and after recent tropical cyclones, including significant flooding issues in the downtown Hagatna area. There are over 500 businesses, government, and residential structures within the Agana River floodplain and the river basin remains a significant flood hazard area.
The city of Hagatna has been designated by FEMA to be in a flood zone since the 1970s. Gov. Guerrero noted that “a (flood) study was done 20 or 30 years ago, but we want to revisit the process and see if that information is still applicable.”
"The elephant in the room in any discussions regarding the revisions in Hagatna or expansion of the economic potential has always been the Agana River and the concerns about flooding," said Tyrone Taitano, Guam Director of Bureau of Statistics and Plans at the ceremony.
The Corps civil works team started initial analysis and survey of the Agana River area in early March.
According to Sanborn, concerns about flooding and other water-related challenges extend beyond Guam, with other Indo-Pacific region partners grappling with similar problem sets.
“One of our goals is to collaborate with allies and partners where appropriate to bring our civil works expertise to the table, as well as learn from our partners on how they are addressing these challenges,” Sanborn said. “These combined actions not only promote solutions, but have the potential to advance vital peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports the U.S. national defense strategy and vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The Corps and is committed to integrating capabilities to deliver engineering solutions throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”