Islands often have to import many basic necessities and Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, is no exception. That’s why the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Kagman Watershed Project is so important to the island.
Once completed, the project will help protect the environment and will improve the island’s economy by increasing capacity for vegetable farming; much of the produce consumed on Saipan is currently imported by air freight or refrigerated container ship from at least 1,500 miles away.
The Kagman Watershed Project will also provide flood protection and reduce the amount of freshwater flowing into the ocean, making it available for agricultural use. Freshwater running off the island often carries sediment—eroded soil—so reducing runoff also reduces ocean pollution. The project consists of four waterways, two sediment basins, a 70-million-gallon reservoir, a 100,000-gallon storage tank and an irrigation water delivery system.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is part of the United States. It is located in the Mariana Islands, an archipelago separating the Pacific Ocean from the Philippine Sea. The Kagman Watershed is a 3,750-acre peninsula on the eastern shore of the island of Saipan, and contains the largest and most important vegetable farming area on the island.
The Kagman Watershed Project was allocated $4.15 million in technical and financial assistance by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA, commonly known as the Recovery Act, was created by the Obama Administration to boost the economy, in part by developing and improving the nation’s infrastructure.
The project is a result of a partnership between NRCS, CNMI Department of Natural Resources, and the Saipan and Northern Islands Soil and Water Conservation District. The partners celebrated the groundbreaking for the ARRA-funded phase of the project on June 24, 2010. This last phase of the project’s flood protection features will be completed in July 2012.
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