The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality will be having a watershed planning workshop from today, Jan. 21, to Jan. 24, 2020, at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan in Afetna to discuss Saipan’s three major watersheds—the Garapan, Achugao, and Laolao Bay watersheds.
A watershed is an area of land within which all rainfall collects and flows into a single stream.
The workshop is set to provide participants with the understanding of the required components of watershed management plans that would meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, as a means of securing federal funds for the plans’ implementation.
Expected to attend the four-day workshop are representatives from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Office of Planning and Development, Department of Public Works, and Commonwealth Utilities Corp.
Watershed monitoring results, including water quality, ecosystem monitoring, land use and site remediation, infrastructure and capital improvements will be reviewed and discussed.
An update on the Garapan watershed plan is on the agenda, as well as planning for the Laolao Bay and Achugao watershed, particularly the mapping of the watersheds to identify ongoing threats and solutions, the development of goals and objectives and of targeted outreach plans, and monitoring and evaluation.
Watershed protection is important as runoff from rainfall washes pollution into streams. Streams then flow into the lagoon or the oceans, and could carry pollution with them.
When streams are polluted, it is important to investigate the surrounding watershed to figure out the specific pollution sources such as overflowing sewers, garbage, or agriculture. Once the pollution sources in the watershed are identified, the government, with the community, can work on preventing the pollution to improve the water quality in streams and the oceans.
Thus, projects for watersheds in the CNMI could include flood control and road drainage improvements, reforestation, wetland restoration, site remediation, and wastewater improvement, among others.
BECQ and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have funded the planning and assessment efforts on the three watersheds as a means of securing federal implementation dollars for their restoration activities.