An Australian company won the open tender for the contract, and the work is likely to start next Monday, said project officials.
Brisbane-based Water Loss & Pressure Management and company director Carlos Mustoni – who originally hails from Argentina – signed the contract with Finance Secretary Richard Neves yesterday.
The ‘customer side leakage’ investigation is another part of the Te Mato Vai project to upgrade the water supply system on Rarotonga.
The survey team selected to undertake the work will include company representatives, along with assistance from local plumbers Ricky Cowan and son Ngatai.
Officials said, “Because the team is very mindful that it will likely be calling on properties when only the lady of the house is home, Vaine Wichman from the National Council of Women will be part of the investigation group”.
The survey will involve 150 properties around the island and will include a mix of commercial premises and private homes.
The survey team will need to access people’s homes to check for leaks, and director Carlos Mustoni said, “I am conscious and concerned that we should not intrude unnecessarily on people’s privacy”.
“Accordingly the team will have proper identification saying that they are part of the Te Mato Vai project,” he said. “And while plumbers and experts in finding leaks are important to this investigation, so too is respecting people’s privacy – especially the womenfolk - that is why we have included Vaine in our team.”
“She is a very important part of it,” he added.
Water Loss & Pressure Management are described by officials as “... no strangers to the region”, having also completed projects in Samoa and American Samoa, as well as their native Australia.
MFEM’s Development Coordination Division – which will be managing the project – previously said it is hoping to have the programme arranged in a similar manner to the water tank subsidy programme, where a subsidy is put up by the government to cover a certain amount of costs, and any amount over and beyond be covered by individual households.
The exact subsidy has yet to be determined, however, $1 million in funding has been set aside by government, coming from New Zealand’s $15 million contribution towards the Te Mato Vai project.
Officials are aiming to conduct audits of 10 per cent of all households that will eventually undergo repairs to ensure a certain standard of work is achieved.
The programme came about after recent upgrades to Rarotonga’s infrastructure, particularly in Avarua, increased water pressure and in turn exposed lacklustre plumbing in households.