| AWWA Water Champion – Evangeline Lujan, Guam Waterworks Authority
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AWWA Water Champion – Evangeline Lujan, Guam Waterworks Authority

Evangeline “Vangie” Lujan is a senior regulatory analyst with the Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA), which provides water and wastewater services to about 170,000 civilians on the U.S. island territory in the Western Pacific. A Guam native, Lujan is past president of the Western Pacific Subsection of the Hawaii Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA- HiWPS). 

Education: B.A., Mathematics, University of Guam; M.S., Industrial Engineering, Information System Design, Arizona State University

AWWA Water Champion Evangeline Lujan of GuamHow and why did you get involved in the water sector? I entered the water sector through my coastal and environmental management experience. While I was working with the Government of Guam as the Geographic Information System (GIS) manager, I started developing base maps that included natural and manmade resources such as watersheds, rivers, streams, parcels, and utilities. Then, as administrator of the Guam Coastal Management Program, I worked more closely with GWA’s planners and compliance staff on development projects and became familiar with the utility’s issues and operations.

Job duties: I’ve worked at GWA for 10 years. I consider my position as a utility provider, an environmental steward, and manager of one of the island’s most critical natural resources – ground water and surface water. Understanding how to protect and better manage water sources is critical, especially as populations increase and as we experience the impact of climate change. (Pictured above, Vangie Lujan, with members of AWWA-HIWPS presenting a donation to the University of Guam, with her family.) 

What is involved in managing Guam’s water resources? GWA is overseen by an elected, non-partisan Consolidated Commission on Utilities (CCU). We share the island’s aquifer with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), which owns about a fourth of Guam’s land and maintains about 6,400 active-duty servicemembers on the island. GWA meets regularly with DOD under the “One Guam Initiative.” We also partner with the University of Guam’s Water Environmental Research Institute, which provides us with science and data to better manage the island’s water resources.

How do Guam’s location and environment impact your work? Living on a remote island requires us to manage water resources with limited supplies, manpower and other resources. Replacement parts may take weeks or longer to arrive, so planning is critical. We regularly experience natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, so emergency preparedness is critical.

From an environmental standpoint, we’re fortunate to have an aquifer that can provide water to our populations. We also utilize surface water in parts of the island. We need to be thoughtful and careful about any impacts to the aquifer from development and other activities.

What is a challenge GWA is currently working on? Replacing aging infrastructure and managing the impact of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Guam’s remoteness and an ongoing buildup of federal defense facilities create excess demand in the construction market, which impacts the price of materials and the availability of a skilled workforce. Any type of infrastructure construction and repair is extremely costly and puts a burden on our customers.

In addition, GWA is planning and designing a treatment system to address PFAS and the insecticide dieldrin in our water supply. GWA works closely with Guam Environmental Protection to ensure we continue to be in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal and local regulations.

What is your family’s history on Guam? My mother is Chamorro, which are the Indigenous people of Guam. Her family has lived on Guam for generations. My father is Filipino, from the Philippines. I have lived here all my life, except for going to Arizona for graduate school. My husband, Galen, and I have been married for 32 years. We have a daughter, Annisa, and twin boys, Joseph and Frank.

How have you benefited from your AWWA membership and involvement? Being an AWWA member has provided me with access to many training opportunities related to regulatory compliance. AWWA has been a great resource for addressing the complexities of providing water and wastewater service to our customers. Guam belongs to a subsection of the Hawaii Section, along with member islands Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. We have shared resources, knowledge and experiences with our regional partners through AWWA.

What other interests do you have? I enjoy singing and have done community musical theater and belonged to my church choir for more than 30 years. I’ve worked for many years on environmental projects and was appointed by the Government of Guam to the Climate Change and Resiliency Commission. I’m also part of a regional conservation initiative called the Micronesia Challenge.  
 

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