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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 11, 2002 – Saipan Journal)---As many as 30 percent of the houses on Saipan do not have septic systems and simply rely on outdoor "pit" toilets.

This was stated in the CNMI’s Water Quality Assessment Report released last week by the Division of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ, which administers the Individual Wastewater Disposal System Permitting Program, said there seems to be no progress on resolving the matter issue.

"An inter-agency public health regulations task force had been formed to address this and other issues in 2000, but ceased to function 2001 due to departure of key personnel. Progress on this issue ceased with the dissolution of the task force," the report stated.

"[The] DEQ would like to work with [the] BEH [Bureau of Environmental Health] and other CNMI government entities to assist these people with installing septic systems (or sewer connections) and more sanitary plumbing facilities," it stated.

The findings that as many as 30 percent of the homes do not have septic systems were based on village inspections conducted by the BEH in 2000, according to the report.

Meantime, the DEQ said it plans to host a septic system design workshop this year. The workshop will seek to train local engineers, architects and contractors on basic design requirements for septic systems.

"The regulations establish minimum standards for on-site disposal systems, including septic systems and other wastewater treatments systems (OWTS), such as package treatment plants. All new development that is not connected to a sewer system must obtain a permit for the construction of an IWDS or OWTS," the report said.

"The OWTS regulations also require treatment of animal waste, but no specific treatment requirements are included in the regulations," it added.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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