“The Sanitation Upgrade Programme (SUP) has progressed significantly with the physical implementation phase well underway. We felt it was extremely important that the team were all in one location and that the public and our stakeholders could access information and the WATSAN team easily” said director Tekao Herrmann.
The SUP will see up to 1000 households in Rarotonga and Aitutaki wastewater systems upgraded to meet the new regulatory standards as outlined in the 2014 Public Health Regulations.
The area targeted for immediate upgrade is Titikaveka, with particular focus on properties in the Lagoon Protection Zone (LPZ). The SUP is funded by the Cook Islands Government, the European Union and New Zealand Aid Programme. The programme operates until 2019 with the overarching goal of improving the quality of water resources in Rarotonga and Aitutaki through upgraded sanitation. This will reduce the risks posed to public health, the environment and the country’s major earner, tourism.
The targeted high risk areas within the lagoon protection zone often referred to as the LPZ are on the beach side of the main road, defined areas inland of the main road and inland water, streams and wetlands. These areas have the most impact on our lagoon health.
WATSAN has engaged with five private sector wastewater professionals who are now working on installations for home owners in Titikaveka and providing efficient sanitation systems that meet the new government standards.
“Soak pits are no longer legal in the Lagoon Protection Zone and are damaging the delicate marine environment through leeching and overflow of wastewater into our lagoon,” a WATSAN spokesman said.
To register for the programme or if you want to know more about the WATSAN unit, call either the ICI office main line on 20321 or the WATSAN unit direct on 22648.
Note: ‘WATSAN’ is the Water, Waste and Sanitation Unit of the Ministry of Infrastructure Cook Islands. The unit is responsible for managing and implementing programmes of work focussed on improving water, waste and sanitation infrastructure, policy and related practice throughout the Cook Islands. The unit’s work is directed by the Minister of Infrastructure, Teariki Heather, via the Secretary of Infrastructure Cook Islands.