HONOLULU — Oct. 19, 2015 — The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will receive more than $9 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue efforts to protect human health and the environment, according to a press release.

Additional funds include:

  • $6.7 million to the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure support
  • $2.3 million to the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) for environmental program operations

“This much-needed funding will help the CNMI provide cleaner, safer drinking water, while protecting its coral reefs,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in the release. “We will continue to support CNMI’s efforts to ensure a better environment for the residents of CNMI.”

CUC will use the $6.7 million for water infrastructure projects that will give customers 24-hour service, improved drinking water quality in addition to better prevention from water pollution and better resiliency of the drinking water systems against storm impacts, noted the release.

BECQ will undertake projects to clean contaminated areas, monitor safe pesticide use, ensure clean beaches and safe drinking water, coral reef protection and clean up polluted streams, stated the release.

Priorities for the funding include:

  • Ensuring safe, reliable drinking water
  • Making coastal waters safe for fishing, swimming and marine life
  • Protecting coral reefs and public health by monitoring beaches and water quality and implementing recently updated Water Quality Standards
  • Cleaning up Saipan’s watersheds by reducing pollution sources such as outhouses, illegal on-site disposal systems, piggeries, urban runoff and livestock grazing
  • Conducting a radon assessment at selected homes and institutional buildings
  • Implementing a Conservation Action Plan to reduce and mitigate stormwater runoff for the Garapan area
  • Eliminating the illegal importation of pesticides and use of unregistered/foreign pesticides
  • Inspecting fuel storage tanks in order to prevent fuel leaks
  • Emergency response, hazardous waste and clean air program management
  • Improving the automation, standardization and access of environmental data

The area falls under the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9), reported the release. It is comprised of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations.

You can find the entire release here.