Thursday, 10 Dec 2015 By Jasmine Stole | Post News Staff
For about three decades, Andy Fairfield has traveled up and down the Talofofo and Ugum Rivers almost daily as the captain and tour guide for the southern boat cruise in Talofofo and he said he’s seen the rivers transform over the years.
“The river width here used to be just enough for this boat to fit through here, that’s how narrow the river used to be,” Fairfield said. The boat had gone as far as it could on the Ugum River yesterday on a group tour with government officials. On either side of the boat, the river bank had receded and in front of it was a pile of vegetation that sat in the middle of the river. Fairfield said it was too shallow for the boat to go any farther.
About 40 government officials took the Valley of the Latte River Adventure tour to see soil erosion along the southern rivers yesterday afternoon.
David Tydingco, with Valley of the Latte, said that in one area about a half acre and in another area about quarter of an acre was lost into the ocean because of soil erosion.
The group’s two-hour tour was hosted by Kloppenburg Enterprises. “The flooding and erosion of the banks is becoming a very, very alarming situation,” said Bruce Kloppenburg, president of Kloppenburg Enterprises. “It’s getting worse.”
Fairfield said that every time Guam gets 6 or more inches of rain within 24 hours, the Talofofo River flash floods.
The soil leads off the river banks ends up in the ocean and the coral reefs, and smothers the reef, according to Edwin Reyes, program administrator with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans’ Coastal Management Program. “It doesn’t allow the coral to settle in.”
Another effect of the erosion off the river banks is excess algae, which deters fish, Reyes said.
Bart Lawrence, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Pacific Islands Area assistant director for field operations, said the solution is to plant vegetation in the watershed.
The problems now were not created overnight or even in the last hundred years, Lawrence said, instead it’s thousands of years of activity that have led to the erosion today. Lawrence said the solution is to start reforesting the upper end of the watershed. Reforesting that area will stop water entering into the stream system. However, the problem is complex and the solution is not just reforesting. Lawrence said the problem will need stakeholders’ continued attention.
Sen. Rory Respicio said the next step is to hold a roundtable discussion. The discussions generate ideas and solutions for the problem, he said.
Sen. Tom Ada, oversight chairman of the legislative committees of land and utilities, said funding reforestation and finding the people to reforest is one of the issues that will have to be taken care of to help the erosion problem.
“It’s encouraging that you’ve got experts that are actually looking at this and we’re not going about it blindly,” Ada said.
Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes said educating the community and other stakeholders about the issue is also important moving forward. She said even with the signs of erosion, she is humbled knowing there are officials who are concerned about preserving the land and looking to take action.
Other senators, including Sens. Frank Blas, Jim Espaldon, Mary Torres and Tommy Morrison, and officials from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Parks and Recreation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also took part in the tour.
Erosion Along Talofofo River Worsens
Senator Rory Respicio led a group of government officials on a tour of the Talofofo river to see first hand the effects of erosion there.
Written By Clynt Ridgell
The visit was hosted by the Southern Soil and Water Conservation district board and by Kloppenburg Enterprises which conducts tourist boat cruises along the river. The erosion of the Talofofo river is impacting the environment, water quality, farm lands and nearby historic latte sites. Senator Respicio will be looking at improving reforestation and the enforcement of fire regulations. "It's bad in one area as Dave Tydingco pointed out they already lost a quarter of their property. So for example the one area where they are planting pineapples and planting papaya trees and they are also doing some farming they planted for example three rows of papaya trees and the first row is already washed out into the river because of the erosion,” said Senator Respicio.
The Senator says that he will look at utilizing individuals on community service grant funding to hire people to plant more trees to prevent the ongoing erosion of these properties.
Interview between Ray Gibson and Senator Tom Ada about Miguel Bordallo's selection by the CCU to be the new General Manager of the Guam Waterworks Authority. They then talked about the boat ride down the Talofofo River to look at the erosion problem with the Talofofo and Ugum Rivers. They also talked about the issue of enforcing weight limits on commercial vehicles.
Respicio, senators tour southern rivers to assess erosion
By Ken Quintanilla Dec 09 2015
It's been a continuous concern to local and federal agencies along with island residents and this week island senators had a chance to see for themselves the growing erosion problem along the Talofofo and Ugum Rivers. Senator Rory Respicio led a group of senators on a site visit with the Southern Soil and Water Conservation District Board and other agencies to get a firsthand look at the problem and start the dialogue with stakeholders to develop solutions.
Some of issues caused by the growing erosion include loss of farm land, threats to nearby historic latte sites and jobs of local people employed in tourism related activities along the river. Respicio says his Legislative Committee on National Resources will be hosting a roundtable meeting with all stakeholders in the next few weeks.