Stream Water Monitoring & Watershed Assessment

Achugao Watershed Ridge


Ridge to Reef

The WQS/NPS staff, are members of the Stream Dream Team. The Team is responsible for monitoring and assessing impaired streams that have been designated in the 303(d) list.  As most of the streams in the CNMI are intermitent, or ephemeral, this requires rapid response by the Team to quickly collect stream samples from the upper,mid, and lower watershed while there is still flow, which means hiking to sampling points during down pours and other storm events.

During dry season and in between rain events the Team conducts sanitary survey assessments of impaired watersheds to digitally record the path of streams and sources of pollution. The Team uses Trimble GPS units and ArcGIS software to map the location of pollution sources (e.g., roaming cows or pigs, illegal dump sites, illicit wastewater discharge, etc.) and types of pollution encountered (wastewater, heavy metals, nutrients, etc.).  Surveys have been completed in the Laolao and Achugao watersheds, as well as partial surveys in the Talofofo and Takpochao watersheds. This characterizes the watersheds' condition and how they are impaired from "ridge to reef".

The Team's assessment findings are also used to create Conservation Action Plans (CAP) that resource managers can use to tackle the sources of pollution and to restore the watershed's "health" . These restoration projects are not possible without the help and involvement of the village community surrounding the streams.


Upper Watershed
Achugao Stream Near Ridge


Above Residences


Lower Watershed
Greywater Discharge to Stream


Lower Watershed
Piggery Waste Discharge to Stream


Stream Outlet to Tanapag Lagoon
"fish kill" Dec 2013


The Stream Dream Team's assessments have reveiled a prevailing issue observed in the CNMI, and in other island territories; untreated animal waste from inproper subsistance farming practices, and free roaming domestic and feral animals. The Team continues to partner with local and federal agencies, especially the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), to help farmers learn about and adopt environmental Best Management Practices (BMP) to improve sanitary conditions at home and in the wateshed. The Team visits with farmers and uses this Video about waterborn illness on their cell phones or tablets to graphically highlight the impacts that inappropriate farming practices have on water quality, which can impact their family's health, and the rest of the watershed community.  

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