Water Quality Surveillance & Non-Point Source
The Water Quality Surveillance and Non-Point Source (WQS/NPS) Program was created in late 2013 as part of the BECQ merger. The branch was established in response to EPA’s growing water quality program requirements; to monitor, and when necessary, remediate both our marine waters and our fresh water stream systems within our watersheds.
The WQS Program is funded through the Clean Water Act Section 106 and the BEACH Grant program. The NPS program is funded through EPA Section 319 and NOAA's Coral Reef Initiative. This funding is used to monitor and evaluate the health of our marine waters and fresh water streams through regular sampling and analysis, and ground-truthed assessments. Those waters that fail to meet the CNMI water quality microbial standards are "red flagged" in public Beach Advisories. Waters that are frequently "red flagged" or fail to meet other water quality standards like, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, turbidity etc., are considered impaired. They are then included in the 303(d) list as required by the Clean Water Act. Impaired waters are further studied by the WQS/NPS "Stream Dream Team", a committed group of individuals that together conduct watershed sanitary survey assessments, map streams using GPS and ArcGIS, and test water quality in streams when water is flowing to identify and map the source of pollutants. Assessment findings are shared in the biennial 305(b) and 303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report. Findings are also used to create Integrated Watershed Management Plans (IWMP) to :
- address the sources of pollution using Best Management Practices;
- engage and inform individuals living within the watershed of the cause and source of pollution, and ask for their collaboration to prevent further detriment;
- and to restore CNMI waters so they are once again "swimmable and fishable" for the enjoyment of our visitors and our community.