Two years ago, several staff members had the opportunity to travel to Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The team mapped drainage infrastructure, assessed sources of pollution, and identified key opportunities for restoration within the Achugao, Garapan, and Lao Lao Bay Watersheds.
The group inventoried age-old infrastructure from WWII, observed active construction today, and saw evidence of our future demand on the land. While abroad, we talked with residents who told stories from decade ago, collaborated with consultants who shared our same concerns, and met with federal agencies to ensure our decision-making process fit the priorities of the people and the place.
All three watersheds are impaired, exceeding one or more CNMI water quality standards. We assessed each watershed and identified solutions for land-based sources of pollution. Sponsored by NOAA and the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, we worked closely with Koa Consulting LLC, Sea Change Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy to engage local organizations. We collected field data and mapped drainage infrastructure linking flow-patterns with key opportunities to improve water quality. Our field teams and workshop facilitators gathered hundreds of data points; produced dozens of restoration concepts; and identified watershed management priorities, challenges, and visions.
Next steps will include drafting watershed management plans to integrate different stakeholder’s priorities (e.g., on-going capital improvements, restoration efforts, road upgrades) and to balance economic growth with environmental integrity. As a result of this work, we hope federal and local agencies can implement these watershed solutions to one-day meet the CNMI water quality standards.
HW Project Team:
Brian A. Laverriere, RLA
Josephine Ibanez, Environmental Scientist
Eliza Hoffman, Staff Engineer
Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA, Principal Landscape Architect
Anne Kitchell, Senior Watershed Planner
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program