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    Sunday, December 8, 2019-11:51:09P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Government agencies discuss progress on Garapan watershed conservation action plan

AS more development projects are implemented in Garapan, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality along with other government agencies and some lawmakers, are discussing ways to protect the island’s marine resources.

Yesterday at the Pacific Islands Club, BECQ wrapped up a two-day workshop with various government agencies such as the Department of Public Works, the Saipan mayor’s office and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

This is the 2nd year of the Garapan watershed conservation action plan which was drafted by various government agencies in partnership with BECQ on 2013.

The ideas discussed during the workshop held this week will be used by the agencies to update the plan whose goal is to maintain and improve the valuable natural resources that exist in the west Tapochao central sub-watershed and to coordinate efforts between stakeholders to provide the most benefit to the natural resources and the community that uses them.

“If we are trying to affect change in the water then we have to take account what is happening in the land up there,” BECQ-Division of Coastal Resource Management watershed coordinator Kaitlin Mattos said in an interview with Variety before the workshop.

Reps. Blas Jonathan  Attao and Ed Villagomez of Precinct 3 brainstorm during the workshop yesterday.  Photo by Richelle Ann Agpoon CabangReps. Blas Jonathan Attao and Ed Villagomez of Precinct 3 brainstorm during the workshop yesterday. Photo by Richelle Ann Agpoon Cabang

Mattos said the establishment of the Garapan watershed conservation action plan brought awareness, collaboration and action among government agencies, the private sector and the community to address issues that affect the environment.

“Polluted runoff, wastewater and sewage that is not dealt with properly, as well as the impact of climate change are among the issues that were seen back then. We brainstormed different activities and considered what we can do to address the situation,” she said.

According to Mattos, the changes that were implemented included considering alternatives on paving the roads, community stewardship and implementing regulations among other things.

“An example will be paving the road to Mount Tapochao because a lot of dirt from that road washes off and ends up on our beaches,” she said.

Those participating in the Garapan watershed conservation action plan workshop pose for a group photo at PIC on Tuesday.  Contributed photoThose participating in the Garapan watershed conservation action plan workshop pose for a group photo at PIC on Tuesday. Contributed photo

Yesterday, the participants at the workshop updated each other on the progress they have made over the previous two years, sharing updated data, possible funding sources and ideas related to community stewardship.

Rep. Ed Villagomez, who was among the participants, said it is one of his goals to look for funding sources that will address natural-resource issues in Garapan.

“Some of the issues we face to mitigate the situation such as private property issues will have to be addressed — and we will try our best to do so,” he said.

Mattos said the workshop was a success and extended her gratitude to the participants which included personnel from the Department of Public Lands, the Zoning Office, the Bureau of Environmental Health, and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

The final draft of the updated Garapan watershed conservation action plan is to be released by mid-year.