Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lao Lao Stream Sampling Sites

Yesterday and today, Jeremy Shaw and I, along with superstar volunteer Scott McClaren, went down to Lao Lao to mark and clear paths to the stream water sampling sites for Saipan's newest all-volunteer environmental group, the STREAM TEAM!. (More on the Stream Team later)

I mentioned in a previous post that there is a road that leads from San Vicente down to Lao Lao Bay, that then runs parallel along the beach, and then at the end of the beach heads up towards Kagman. There are 9 streams along this road. These are the 9 streams that drain the Lao Lao Watershed.

DEQ and Marianas RC&D want to measure the sediment loads in these streams during rain events, so that we can determine the main source of the sediments suspended in Lao Lao Bay. Today we finished marking and clearing trails to 12 water quality sampling sites along 7 of the streams.

Here is a picture of Scott marking one of the stream sampling sites:

Hacking a trail is always satisfying work, but we were disappointed to encounter yet another serious problem that threatens the health of the coral reefs and the beauty of the island:

People are using the areas around the streams as illegal dumping sites. One of the areas looked like a washing machine graveyard. We also found a lot of what looked like spray paint cans, but which were actually butane canisters. Supposedly, the majority of Saipan's residents cook on butane powered cooking ranges. Some people are throwing their used canisters into the jungle instead of properly disposing of them. They end up getting washed into the streams.

The photo pictured above shows garbage clogging one of the culverts that is supposed to move storm water under the road.

When garbage (or sediment) clogs the manmade systems for moving stormwater, the stormwater just ends up washing over the road. That can lead to increased sediment loads, making an already bad situation worse. The garbage is also getting washed out into the bay where it can cause a host of problems, including but not limited to poisoning or choking marine creatures.

It looks like we are going to have to add stream cleanups to our list of volunteer activities.

No comments: