Environment

The Water, Waste, and Sanitation Unit of the Ministry of Infrastructure Cook Islands (WATSAN) is warning local residents to get their drinking water from approved water stations around the island.

Rain disrupts water services

Tuesday March 27, 2018

Days of heavy rain on Rarotonga have led to 10 out of the 12 water intakes around the island being blocked by debris, says the Water, Waste, and Sanitation Unit of the Ministry of Infrastructure Cook Islands (WATSAN).

The Cook Islands may take advantage of the newly-signed Moana Taka Partnership in which a Chinese company has agreed to ship containers of recyclable waste out of the country at no cost.

Photos published by CI News recently showed what appeared to be the return of the algal bloom that has plagued Rarotonga’s lagoon over the last few years.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Marine Resources Henry Puna officially opened the extended and renovated Ocean Monitoring Centre at the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) in Avarua yesterday, describing it as “a facility that allows our sovereign little nation to exercise full responsibility over its ocean domain”.

The Cook Islands has become the fourth country in the Pacific region to obtain a Country Preparedness Package (CPP) outline.

The Cook Islands government appears to have reached the bottom of the funding barrel for the long-running Te Mato Vai water mains project, says the Opposition spokesman for finance and the economy, James Beer

Turning bottles into sand

Friday March 16, 2018

Work now being done at WATSAN (Water, Waste and Sanitation) division of Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) could see most of Rarotonga’s empty glass bottles end up as sand.

A cost-benefit analysis of glass crushing is one of three projects being undertaken by WATSAN’s first dedicated waste programme coordinator, Hilary Boyes, who hails from Wanaka in New Zealand and will be with ICI for the next six months.

Boyes has been involved in waste management all over the world, most notably in Vancouver, Canada, where she helped set up organic waste collection for composting purposes. She also worked as an on-site coordinator during the construction of a large natural gas project site in Australia.

“By crushing glass into the particle size of sand, the glass can be substituted for sand in concreting and leave the sand where it belongs,” says Boyes.

“Speaking with experts in concreting they advise that coral sand isn’t actually ideal for concreting and crushed glass is the preferred option.”

A side benefit of recycling glass bottles by crushing them into sand is that it also saves sand being mined for construction purposes.

The rate of natural production of sand is much slower than extraction, which means using sand as aggregate in concrete is unsustainable, especially on small islands. And sand mining can also have other undesirable effects, says WATSAN director Jaime Short.

“The continued mining of sand with the holes being filled with soil and worse still, hazardous waste that is often reported dumped in these holes, will have disastrous effects on lagoon and human health.”

In the 2018/19 budget bidding, ICI is vying for an industrial glass crusher and the findings of Boyes’ cost-benefit analysis will ensure the correct size of crusher is purchased - and that parts are easily obtainable.

“The long-term view is to have this operation taken over by the private sector and we do hope that it can be a profitable venture to attract a private-sector operator,” says ICI secretary Ngametua Pokino.

“We also hope that it will create more attention and action on realising that waste actually is a resource.” ICI now asks the public to separate glass bottles when putting them out for collection, but the glass cannot actually be sent off the island as its international value is too low. Instead, the bottles are used as cover for the landfill and crushed glass from a small single-bottle feed crusher is used as fill on driveways.

The industrial crushing idea has been floating around for some time and there are already private-sector initiatives out there. For example, Brad and Ngere from Brad’s Auto Body Repairs have their own crusher and use cullet-sized crushed glass in pavers – and in the construction of their home.

Andy Olah of Timberland also approached ICI about glass crushing and has been a longtime proponent of the repurposing of glass bottles.

All these local real-life examples for glass crushing will contribute to the analysis, and Malcolm Sword of General Transport is also providing some technical advice for the project.

            - Release/SB

Seabed minerals study opportunity

Thursday March 15, 2018

Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority is seeking applications for a new training and educational opportunity with their joint venture partner, Global Sea Mineral Resources NV (GSR) of Belgium.

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