Water authority To Tatou Vai says pressure readings at the island’s 10 water intakes show a steady decline, caused by low rainfall. Without any reservoirs, Rarotonga is extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather.
The authority’s corporate manager Tunoa Kaina issued a statement saying the low pressure was because of “very little water available in the streams right now and customer demand is up”.
Authorites are concerned about massive water wastage on Rarotonga, most of it by householders and their leaking pipes.
When the new disinfected water system is introduced, the plans are that households and businesses will get only a limited quantity each day – and after that they’ll have to start paying.
To Tatou Vai boss Brent Manning said last night that 200 litres per person per day was an internationally accepted water allowance; for a household, he said 1000 litres a day, peaking at 1400 litres.
This did not account for any industrial, commercial or agricultural supply, or public good purposes such as firefighting, he said.
A report on potential water payment systems, commissioned in 2015, said on any given day there was about 8.5 million litres available in the system. But that can be dramatically affected by rainfalls.
There were just over 3100 households on Rarotonga and they used most of the water, the report said.
Homes that had between two and 11 people living in them were metered for the survey. The average household size was 3.6 persons and they used on average about 400 litres of water a day each.
The report did not contain indicative tariffs, however analysts say commercial tariff rates could range from 8 to 13 cents a litre.
A Te Mato Vai report from 2014 recommends that households should be given a certain fixed free allocation of water per month and that it should not be dependent on the number of residents.
The report also suggests a fixed allocation rather than one based on the number or people living in the house “because it will be simpler to manage and avoids the possibility of it being abused”.