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Help for drought-stricken village

Monday March 19, 2018 Written by Published in Outer Islands
The site of the new water gallery for Tautu Village in Aitutaki. 18031614 The site of the new water gallery for Tautu Village in Aitutaki. 18031614

An Aitutaki village hard-hit by drought is to be one of the first to benefit from a new water supply system planned by Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI).

Tautu, Vaipeka and Vaipae villages were chosen as priority areas for assistance because they are currently the first villages in Aitutaki to suffer from reduced flows in their reticulated supply during dry periods.

Among these three villages, the Aitutaki Island Government identified Tautu as the highest priority, as it suffers the worst during drought periods.

A groundwater infiltration system or “water gallery” will increase the capacity of Tautu Village’s water supply and offer the village’s 63 households improved resilience during times of drought, whilst removing the reliance on existing, underperforming galleries.

The recent 2013 drought was a catalyst for rethinking water security on Aitutaki. A strategy was developed involving the establishment of new water galleries to take the pressure off existing ones, some of which are demonstrating slow recharge rates.

“Another reason for firstly progressing with a new gallery for Tautu was that the community identified a suitable area of land which the landowners were willing to develop for a gallery, reducing the risk of delays to the project,” said Victoria Clark, a Volunteer Service Abroad water engineer working with ICI.

Aitutaki relies primarily on rainwater for its potable water supply (drinking and cooking only).

Households collect rainwater from their own roofs and have been supplied with water tanks for storage.

For community storage, rainwater is collected off numerous community buildings and stored in tanks around the island, which are in various states of repair. There are also a couple of UV water stations on the island.

Aitutaki’s non-potable (bathroom, laundry, cleaning, agriculture use, etc) water supply is sourced from seven groundwater galleries around the island. Electric pumps supply water from the galleries to elevated reservoirs from which the water is distributed to homes via a piped reticulation network.

Potential future water projects to improve water security on Aitutaki include the erection of a one-million-litre water storage tank near the hospital and the development of another new gallery at either Arutanga or near the airport.

“We are in the early stages of developing a water supply master plan for Aitutaki, with the aim being to guide and provide a more coordinated approach to future water projects on Aitutaki,” said Clark.

            - Release