BSI eyes repair of Garapan canal


The polluted and unsightly open-air canal in Garapan—an eyesore for tourist and residents alike—may soon be remedied.

Best Sunshine International, Ltd., which is planning to build a casino on Saipan, and government officials confirmed yesterday that BSI is leaning toward fixing the open-air canal right beside their Garapan property.

The canal has been noted as dangerous and foul smelling. Parts of its wall are crumbling. Tourists walk the sidewalk beside it. And government officials removed a fallen traffic sign from its water last year.

 Foul air, backflow, crumbling walls, and an unsightly pool of water describe the Garapanís open-air canal, which runs into the nearby lagoon. Public and private stakeholders look to its repair. (Dennis B. Chan)

Foul air, backflow, crumbling walls, and an unsightly pool of water describe the Garapanís open-air canal, which runs into the nearby lagoon. Public and private stakeholders look to its repair. (Dennis B. Chan)

Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada said yesterday they have been sitting down with the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality over the past month on plans for the greater Garapan revitalization project.

Two focuses are waste and storm drainages, he said.

He noted that Best Sunshine could help “work on the canal system” and “make a new design.”

To “reconstruct and make it new. Cement and cover it up a little,” he said. “We are working together as a team in closing those drainages. Our people go on that pathway to go to [hotels].”

Best Sunshine legal counsel Charles McDonald confirmed yesterday that they have had talks with DPW to solve issues with the canal.

“We haven’t finalized that but it could very well be,” he said.

When asked, he said they are considering having an entrance to their property in the area, but they are also “negotiating for another entrance.”

“We are leaning toward helping DPW,” he said.

In an interview this week, BECQ administrator Frank Rabauliman said BSI would benefit from this project.

“They have a lot of stake, basically,” he said, with plans for buildings nearby and a possible main entrance near a road close to Fiesta Resort and Spa.

He noted that BSI has informally talked about wanting to put the canal underground. “But further to that I think there needs to be some kind of purification system, be it a ponding basin to filter whatever discharge goes out into water,” he added.

Asked to comment, BECQ watershed coordinator Kaitlin Mattos, who leads interagency conservation efforts in the area, noted that maintenance of drainages that are repaired is also key.

“The problem with just closing off a drainage like that is that you have to make sure you can get back in there to clean it. Just because it’s closed off from large trash or things, it doesn’t mean that we are not still going to have sediment or things coming in from upland,” she said yesterday.

“It will be really important to make sure we can all collaborate on a plan and on funding, not just for the initial project but longer maintenance,” she added.

She pointed at how the canal’s walls are beginning to collapse, among other problems.

“You can see some of the inlets that lead into that open drain—those feed from underground drainages elsewhere. So anytime you have an underground drain feeding out into a larger canal…anything that’s being dumped into that area is going to be dumped into that drain,” she said.

Depending on who’s maintaining the roads, the storm drains, or who is leasing the properties nearby, she said it’s “really key to get all those players discussing together.”

Rabauliman noted that it is “encouraging” that BSI seems receptive to helping them in the early stages of construction on their property.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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