Groundwater Management

The Ground Water Management Program monitors and regulates the withdrawal and injection of water into the aquifers of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The goal of the program is to protect the ground water resource so that it can be put to the highest beneficial use for which it is capable. The program accomplishes this goal by:

Licensing well drillers in the CNMI to ensure that qualified personnel drill wells.

Issuing permits for the construction of new wells to ensure that the wells are constructed to acceptable standards.

Issuing operating permits for existing wells to ensure that the aquifers are not damaged or contaminated due to over pumping or other bad practices.

There are over 600 various types of wells on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota that DEQ regulates. Saipan alone produces over 9,000,000 gallons of water per day.

Under the Commonwealth Groundwater Management and Protection Act of 1988, Public Law 6-12, the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is authorized to (a) permit the siting, design, construction, testing, and repairs or improvements of wells; (b) manage the withdrawal and use of groundwater through well operation permits; and (c) promulgate rules and regulations to implement the Act. All regulations are published in the Commonwealth Register.

As of September 2005, well drilling and well operation regulations .pdfhave been printed in the following Commonwealth Registers:

09/15/1992, Vol. 14, No. 09, Page 09704 (Final)

02/15/1994, Vol. 16, No. 02, Page 11705 (Final)

10/26/2004. Vol. 26, No. 10, Page 22996 (Proposed)

12/17/2004, Vol. 26, No. 12, Page 23759 (Final)



Groundwater Management Zones

Groundwater management zone (“GMZ”) classifications have been designated on the basis of groundwater quality, availability of recharge, susceptibility to degradation, and present and future land use. 

Class I GMZs are established as critical groundwater protection areas capable of supplying high quality fresh water, and shall receive the highest level of environmental protection.  

Class II GMZs are established as important protection areas considered capable of supplying good quality groundwater, but generally of lower quality (e.g. higher chlorides concentration) than Class I GMZs.  

Class III GMZs are areas providing recharge to primarily brackish aquifers, having some intrinsic value as a resource to supply desalination plants, but primarily of lower value than groundwater found in Class I and II GMZs.  

Below is a map indication the three GWMZ.




Well Drilling and Well Operations

Well Drilling