Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Public Urged To Conserve Water In Samoa
Current water usage outweighs natural replenishment

By Niccola Hazelman-Siona

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 26, 2012) – The Samoa Water Authority (SWA) needs your help. The Manager of SWA Urban Operations and Maintenance Division, Tauili’ili Ekiumeni Fauolo, says people need to conserve water – if we want to avoid a looming water crisis.

"This is all that’s left of the water which supplies a big part of the town area and all the way to Samatau," Tauili’ili said, pointing to the catchment area at Fuluasou.

The Samoa Water Authority had invited the Sunday Samoan to Fuluasou in an attempt to explain why water rationing is continuing in many villages.

For the past two weeks, countless members of the public have called the Samoa Observer to complain about not being able to access tap water.

At Fuluasou on Friday, the sight was not good; in fact, it was worrying. The catchment area has nearly dried up.

Despite some heavy downpours in recent weeks, they have not been able to supply enough water. The river that flows through Tuaefu, Tuanaimato and Lepea has all but dried up.

Tauili’ili said the alarming rate in which water is consumed is worrying "as intakes areas are not being recharged fast enough to keep up with the demand.

"As the population grows, so will the demand," he said. "Imagine 15 or 20 years from now when we have completely exhausted these water intakes, what will happen then? It is very worrying."

This year has been tough. And Tauili’ili is not too optimistic about the future either.

"The amount of rain received so far is satisfactory but much more is needed to fully recharge the natural environmental storages and reserves before significant yields and lasting safe flows is attained," said Tauili’ili.

"This is an ecological event often misunderstood and underestimated at the start of every rainy season, particularly after a long dry period."

According to Tauili’ili "each catchment intake/water extraction source has a unique quality that is specific to its source and watershed condition.

"The disparate impact and effect (at the start of rainy season) observed at river and spring sources are an indicative measure of deterioration levels at the related watershed."

Tauili’ili said that while SWA sympathizes with members of the public who are frustrated about the lack of water, he said SWA is trying to save as well as distribute water to everyone.

"It is not easy because we cannot go out and produce the water," he said. "We rely on the reserves and nature. The public has every right to know what is going on and we understand that but people must also bear with us."

SWA is not the only industry using water. The Electric Power Corporation (EPC) also uses large amounts of water to drive its hydro-powered turbines. Sometimes, there is a conflict between the two bodies over water.

"We often have to fight over water with EPC as we are trying to provide water to the public whilst they need water to provide electricity; we are not the only industry using the water."

SWA is now working on another pump station which will increase the amount of water intake to feed the treatment plants through the old EPC dam at Tuaefu.

"The new pump station will hopefully ease the pressure off the streams and we can source from the dam. It is a lot more complicated than a simple equation that rainfall equals more water; we would need three months of solid rainfall to be able to service all areas nonstop. Once the public is aware of how limited our water resources are, they will be much more considerate and mindful of the way water is used," he said.

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