Hafa Adai and Tirow! Welcome to the Division of Environmental Quality - Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality website.
Should the water quality results from a beach site or other monitored stream site exceed the CNMI Water Quality Microbial Standards, a Public Beach Advisory, or "red flag" is posted in social media, such as it is here on the DEQ website, and on the CNMI Waters Facebook page.
It is also emailed to various agencies and individuals who ask to be on the email list, and faxed to local papers for publication.
Red Flag placards are also posted on beach signs located at Saipan's most frequented beaches.
If a "red flag" occurs in an area that is highly used, like in front of hotels, WQS/NPS staff will go to the beach that same day to resample the beach. This allows BECQ to notify the public as soon as possible when potential pathogens are no longer present and it is once again safe to recreate in these waters.
Many of the selected beach sites have been monitored continuously since the late 1980's. That is why some beach sites bare the name of an old hotel that has since been renamed under new ownership. The original site names are used to ensure that these sites remain associated with historical data kept within the BECQ database and in the US EPA databases, and US EPA BEACON website.
You can visit the US EPA BEACON website to view historical information about your favorite beach site or you can review the last two years of water quality information in the biennial CNMI 305(b) and 303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report.
Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) in the CNMI
Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) generally affects the health of our watersheds. NPS is a concern worsened by heavy rainfall and man-made pollutants carried to coastal areas by runoff that has a direct impact on the surrounding beaches and marine life.
The most common sources of enterococci contamination from Nonpoint sources in the CNMI include: sediment-laden storm water runoff with naturally occurring enterococci from urban runoff, erosion from construction sites, illicit wastewater discharges from animal pens and outhouses waste from free-range feral and domestic livestock, and lack of adequate public restroom facilities at frequently visited tourist sites.
Addressing nonpoint source pollution is a very important step in protecting our watersheds from impairment.
When waters are found to be impaired, we work together to help restore degraded aquatic resources and their protected uses to sustain its resources for our island’s ecological health.
BECQ WQS/NPS regularly monitors the microbiological water quality of the CNMI’s coastal waters and nonpoint source issues to inform the public and drive multi-agency efforts to minimize nonpoint source pollution.
Understanding Beach Flags
New beach advisory signs have been recently installed around the island of Saipan to provide useful knowledge in relation to the health of CNMI waters and surroundings. The beach signs display the advisory written in commonly used languages such as English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese for better engagement, along with the beach safety flags.
A green flag is posted when water quality sample results from a recreational beach site do not exceed advisory levels and the site is safe to swim or fish.
A red flag is posted when water quality sample from a recreational beach site exceeds the advisory levels. It may be unsafe to swim or fish in this area within 300 feet of the posted signs, so we advise the public not to swim or fish in the area for 48 hours at your own risk after posting the red flag.
(Note that when bacteria levels go above the standards, it can be unsafe to come into contact with those waters, so you can become sick. If you touch the water, especially if the water gets in your nose, mouth, ears, or cuts, it can cause rashes, skin infections, gastrointestinal illness and respiratory illness).
The designated beach advisory signs are currently located at frequented beach access sites for fishing, swimming and recreational uses where BECQ samples weekly. Here are the following site installations from north to south you will see: Grotto, Tanapag Meeting Hall, DPW Channel Bridge (Lower Base), Micro Beach, Grandvrio Hotel, Garapan Fishing Base, Garapan Beach (13 Fishermen's Memorial), Civic Center Beach, Sugar Dock, CK District No. 2 Drain-(Aquarius Beach), and Kanoa Resort.
Beach flag advisories are posted on the signs, on social media (Facebook and Instagram), aired in the news, and on the DEQ website. Also, if you would like to be added to the Water Quality email list for advisories, feel free to email or contact BECQ's Water Quality Surveillance/Nonpoint Source branch at 664-8531 for more information.
Saipan East and South Beaches
Saipan West Beaches