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Despite drenching rains Tuesday, two days after Typhoon Chaba’s ferocious eye barely missed Guam, water continues to be a precious commodity for the island’s Navy housing residents.

Commander Naval Forces Marianas issued a “boil water” order Monday night — effective immediately — for Nimitz Hill military housing, Old and New Apra military housing areas, the main Navy base and the naval magazine, said Lt. Arwen Consaul, a Navy spokeswoman.

Those areas also have low water pressure and no tap water between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. until further notice, Consaul said. The order affects about 922 housing units, including bachelor enlisted quarters, she said.

The order to boil drinking water went into effect after the Public Works Center turned the Navy’s water treatment plant back on, Consaul said. The pumps were shut down Monday due to filter sediment buildup from Chaba and weeks of rain. The Navy closed some valves to Navy housing and the naval magazine Monday to conserve water, Consaul said.

“Any time the pipes go dry, it’s a good idea to boil water,” she said, adding that testing whether the water is potable takes 24 hours.

Fena Reservoir, where Navy water comes from, was the coffee-colored Tuesday, Consaul said.

Water pressure is low because engineers are diverting about half of the Navy’s water supply to refill its two depleted reserve tanks, each of which hold about 500 million gallons, the spokeswoman said. That’s also why there’s no water from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. “We’re shutting off the water to fill those tanks,” she said. Some of the reserves were tapped into during the typhoon, leaving the tanks “so low” now, Consaul said. The water reserves are used for base firefighting, ship traffic and to supply on-island power plants. “If we go through another typhoon, that’s what we live off,” Consaul said.

Water pressure and the boil order likely will be in effect for about a week, until the reserve tanks are full, she said. In the meantime, base residents are being asked to save water.

“Don’t go wash your car. Don’t run the dishwater. Don’t leave water running when you’re doing your dishes,” Consaul said. “We’re asking everyone to conserve water.”

The Navy also temporarily has stopped supplying Guam Water Works with water, in effect shutting down water to some island villages.

“Our goal today is to hopefully get enough water pumping through our system that we can supply them with a partial amount,” Consaul said Tuesday.

Despite the low water pressure and boil order, most Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities on the Navy base opened Tuesday. MWR restaurants and other eating establishments were using bottled water to prepare food, Consaul said.

Chaba approached to within 75 miles of Guam on Sunday night. According to the Pacific Daily News, the storm caused four storm-related injuries, some flooding and widespread power outages. Chaba since has turned into a super typhoon, packing maximum sustained winds of 180 mph with gusts to 220 mph. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center on its Web site, https://metoc.npmoc.navy.mil/jtwc.html, shows the storm tracking towards Kyoto, Japan, over the next four days.

Guam copter squadron saves tug crew

Sailors from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 5, Guam, rescued six people from a partially submerged tugboat during Typhoon Chaba on Monday, 20 miles northwest of Saipan, according to a Naval Forces Marianas news release.

The helicopter crew set out while the area was under heightened warnings of dangerous weather,after receiving a call from the Coast Guard at about 10 a.m.

When the three helicopter crewmen, two search and rescue swimmers and corpsman arrived, the 40-foot tug was waterlogged and facing 25- to 30-foot seas and 42 mph winds, the release said.

The tug crew members jumped into the sea when they saw the helicopter and the rescue swimmers hoisted them to safety. They were uninjured.

—From staff reports

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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