The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded over $2.3 million to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) to strengthen its capacity to protect human health and the environment, and has awarded over $6.3 million to the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure support.
“This funding will help provide cleaner water, safe drinking water and sanitation to the local communities in the Commonwealth,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
“Both the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality and the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation are great partners in environmental protection,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to support programs committed to achieving a better environment for all the residents of CNMI.”
BECQ uses EPA funding to support inspections, emergency responses, radon assessments, protection of coral reefs, clean-ups of contaminated lands and polluted streams, monitoring safety of pesticide use, ensuring clean beaches and safe drinking water, and improvements to hazardous waste and clean air programs.
The funding has also helped BECQ assess and permanently close the last inventoried leaking underground storage tank on Saipan. EPA’s recent funding of over $1.3 million supplements the $1 million in funds awarded to BECQ earlier this year.
"The CNMI, together with EPA, share a profound commitment to the protection of our natural environment, as we develop plans to protect air, water, and land, and move forward with sustainable development," said Ray Masga, acting administrator of the CNMI’s Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.
EPA’s award of $6.3 million in Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds to CUC will support projects to increase 24-hour drinking water service to customers, improve drinking water quality, and prevent water pollution. Targeted projects include water supply line replacement, drinking water well rehabilitation, and water system improvement projects. The funds will also support island-wide sewer pump station improvements, wastewater treatment plant improvements, other sewer system line replacements.
"The CUC will always be indebted to EPA for its long-term financial support to the CNMI,” said Gary Camacho, CUC’s executive director. “The investments have greatly improved the quality of life on each island of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. CUC is changing for the better and the critical funding provided by EPA is extremely important to the Corporation's long-term success."
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations -- home to more than 50 million people.