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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories


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Ugum Watershed Project:
Students Plant Acacia Seedlings to Help Restore Watershed


Denny Cruz
Water Planning Committee
Guam EPA


Primary Sources of Pollution:

  • soil erosion

Primary NPS Pollutants:

  • sediment

Project Activities:

  • planting native acacia trees


  • 50,000 acacia tree seedlings planted in a 50-acre area
  • projected to reduce turbidity and improve drinking water supply

The Ugum watershed is one of Guam's last relatively pristine natural areas. It has been identified as one of Guam's highest-priority watersheds in the island's Unified Watershed Assessment. The watershed consists of 19 square kilometers of lush vegetation, productive wetlands, savanna grasslands, and badlands with numerous springs and feeder streams. Located in the southern part of Guam, it is home to wild pigs, deer, and carabao, as well as many birds, some of which are endangered.

The Ugum Water Treatment Plant on the Ugum River supplies drinking water to southeastern island villages. Soil erosion and increased turbidity levels in the Ugum River have been adversely affecting water quality and drinking water supplies.

Acacia tree planting

In 1999 Guam's Water Planning Committee (WPC), composed of a broad spectrum of government agencies and other stakeholders (including Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry; Aquatic and Wildlife Resources; Department of Commerce; Guam Environmental Protection Agency; Natural Resources Conservation Service; University of Guam; Guam Waterworks Authority; Department of Defense; and Bureau of Planning), initiated the watershed action plan for one of its highest-priority watersheds. The WPC determined that the most effective means of preventing and minimizing soil erosion was to encourage actions that maximize vegetative cover, particularly forest.

To achieve this, section 319 funding was used to plant a 50-acre area within the Ugum watershed with some 50,000 trees. One hundred students from Guam's southern schools helped plant the seedlings. The WPC goals were to conserve and protect the ravine forest, revegetate badlands within the savanna grasslands, minimize fires, increase public involvement and education, and obtain special recognition and standing that support the Ugum watershed as a priority watershed.

Reforestation of Ugum watershed

Once established, the acacia trees will allow the opportunity for native trees to restore the area to its native state. This is the beginning of a long-term program of forestation of the watershed. Another sign of success is the WPC's development of a Watershed Executive Order, which the Governor signed in August 1999. The Executive Order affirms the WPC's work on watersheds, gives direction for agency leaders, and emphasizes a watershed protection approach involving multiple ownership and use perspectives.

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