Saving CNMI’s environment to be tackled in a book

Posted on Jun 10 1999

In 1990, the Northern Marianas faced one of the biggest environmental problems when one-and-a-half million gallons of raw sewage per day flowed untreated into Saipan lagoon.

There were rumors of imminent beach closures because of the danger it posed to the public. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned the CNMI government to resolve the pollution in the lagoon, otherwise, it would be forced to impose a severe penalty of $25,000 per day.

This would have imposed on the people an additional tax payment of $2,100 per person per year.

Before it was too late, Saipan’s lagoon was saved through the cooperative efforts of various agencies led by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Division of Environmental Quality, Office of the Governor via the Coastal Resources Management and the USEPA.

This is just one of the many issues which the soon to be published book entitled Island Ecology & Resource Management discusses. Some 15 contributing authors from various fields of expertise, wrote the different articles in the book which tackles not just problems but also offers the concept of “integrated resource management.”

“Will our children’s children swim and fish in the coastal waters or drink from the groundwater which we will leave for them? Will we be able to recognize our responsibility to protect and provide for our islands” endangered life forms and their habitats in time to prevent their extinction? Will each of us invest the finances and time necessary to cause our island and nearshore environments to remain or develop into the way we want them to be?,” the authors asked.

The book was designed to provide the readers with the language, facts and principles of the island’s ecology and resource management regimes. According to John Furey, lead author & editor, the book was specifically made to be reader-friendly as it made extensive use of color graphics.

Last semester, the book was tested on students under the Natural History class of the Northern Marianas College who all gave a very positive review.

As the CNMI already experienced the problems of fast development, the book hopes to empower these future island leaders to make wise decisions on how fast and how controlled the islands’ development must take place.

Guided by the principle of sustainable development, the authors of the book emphasized the need to use the resources in such a way that it would not allow the future generations to enjoy them in their same condition

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