Restoration of Impaired Waters

The Stream Dream Team works with communities living within impaired watersheds to restore stream systems and to prevent further pollution from contaminating the surrounding marine ecosystem. The Achugao Watershed, which envelops the San Roque and Tanapag villages, contains three stream systems that were impaired, The Achugao, Dogas and Agatan streams. Sanitary Survey Assessments of the streams were completed in 2014, which revealed many illicit discharges of kichen greywater, waste from animal pens, and failing sewer lines and connections. The Team visited families to learn more about their environmental awareness, and their financial ability to address non-point sources of pollution.

Homeowners with septic tanks sign up to hook-up to public sewer line

NRCS talks with homeowner about grants for building sanitary piggery

Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program helps homeowners to off set sewer fees by helping with utilities Northern Marianas Housing Corp. talks to homeowners about grants to bring homes up to code DPW Energy Division helps low income families to switch old appliances for energy efficient ones
CUC assists low income families to hook-up to sewer instead of using septic tanks that need pump-outs NRCS talks with homeowner about grants for building sanitary dry litter piggery LIHEAP assists with utility fees to offset cost of sewer line fees NMHC talks about grants and loans to build roofs, waste systems, and plumb kitchens up to code DPW helps low income families switch old appliances for new energy efficient ones

In response to their findings, the Team organized an after-office-hours Village Assistance Forum. The Forum was designed to bring the agencies to the homeowners, many low income, rather than having homeowners find transportation to the agencies, which would require them to leave work (and much needed income) to apply for assistance to clean up their watershed. In so doing, villagers could easily apply for financial aid from various local and federal government programs. This included the Commonwealth Utility Corp (CUC) for sewer hook up with funding from US EPA, Department of Public Works Energy Division (DPW) for replacing appliances with energy efficient ones, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs for Low Income Housing Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to design and construct sanitary animal pens, and the Northern Mariana Housing Corp. Home Program (NMHC) to upgrade home infrastructure.

This year long effort resulted in all animal pens being removed completely or setback from the streams in compliance with CNMI Water Quality Standards, and sewer hook up of many homes previously on septic systems. Many families were also awarded electrical subsidies, funding for home improvements, and the NRCS EQIP grant to at least two families to build dry litter piggeries. These activities successfully resulted in the restoration of the Achugao watershed, which was shared with US EPA, USDA and congress in this Success Story to support future funding for other watersheds.

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