AS-EPA awarded over $2.7Mil by US-EPA for protection programs

The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) has been awarded a grant of over $2.7 million by the US Environmental Protection Agency for ASEPA’s environmental protection programs.

In a news release on Wednesday, the federal agency says ASEPA will use the funds to support air, water, and land inspections, monitor the safety of beaches and drinking water, cleanup sites contaminated by waste, improve piggery environmental compliance, monitor water quality, protect coral reefs, and respond to emergencies.

“[US] EPA’s funding enables American Samoa to pursue its goals of clean air, water and land,” said Alexis Strauss, acting USEPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in the release. “We appreciate American Samoa EPA’s work that benefits the island residents and their natural resources.”

Congresswoman Aumua Amata said in a news release yesterday that this funding will go a long way in keeping American Samoa clean and protecting its natural resources. She looks forward to continuing to work with USEPA to ensure that ASEPA has the funding available to keep American Samoa clean and safer for everyone.

The Congresswoman thanked all USEPA officials involved and especially ASEPA director Ameko Pato and Strauss, who recognized the need for these funds.

In addition to managing its emergency response, hazardous waste and clean air programs, USEPA says current ASEPA project priorities include:

•     Improving its ability to assess watershed health, stream water quality, and coral reef health; and developing a training toolkit using ecosystem health monitoring criteria. This includes a comprehensive ridge-to-reef assessment program and collection of data that can be used to predict threats to ecosystem health in the watersheds, pinpoint specific sources of degradation, and develop models for identifying threats to coral;

•     Working to remove the existing boil-water notices on Tutuila, and ensuring access to potable drinking water for all American Samoa residents;

•     Protecting Faga’alu Watershed, designated a priority watershed by the US Coral Reef Task Force, and its coral reefs through the reduction of silt and contaminants into Faga’alu stream;

•     Protecting human health and reducing leptospirosis through implementation of ASEPA’s Piggery Compliance Program;

•     Educating farmers on proper pesticide application techniques, and eliminate illegal importation and use of unregistered/foreign pesticides;

•     Protecting coastal waters, coral reefs and indigenous biota through water quality monitoring and beach monitoring to ensure American Samoa has clean beaches for swimming and fishing;

•     Conducting outreach and education to American Samoa’s schools and communities, including the “Keep American Samoa Beautiful” (KASB) Campaign and American Samoa’s Anti-Litter Program;

•     Cleaning up and supporting the development of formerly contaminated sites; and

•     Inspecting underground and above-ground fuel storage tanks.

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