During the question time, Heather asked what plans the Infrastructure Cook Islands had in place to deal with water shortage situation in his constituency of Ruaau.
In a supplementary question, Amuri-Ureia MP Terepai Maoate pointed out similar situation was being faced on the outer islands including Aitutaki.
Deputy prime minister Mark Brown said water was a number priority for life, adding which is why he encouraged the members of Opposition not oppose any of the initiatives the government have for water but to support them wholeheartedly.
In the past, the Opposition had been critical of the Te Mato Vai project which is aimed at delivering portable drinking water to the people of Rarotonga. The opposition claimed the government had bust the initial budget set to deliver this multi-million dollar project, which was believed to be $60 million.
“In this Budget, there is allocation that is set aside for Aitutaki for the water gallery development and this is in addition to the numerous community water tanks that has been set up throughout Aitutaki,” said Brown, who is also the country’s Finance minister.
“This is also in addition to the community programmes for water tanks for households right throughout the island including the water tank and water tower that is being completed for Mitiaro and of course on Rarotonga as mentioned in the Te Mato Vai project … currently $65 million is what it will take to put our country into a footing where water problems would be addressed.”
Brown also said drinking water have been shipped to Penrhyn to provide relief to those facing water shortage problem on the island.
He said in Rarotonga in particular, the challenge was storage of water.
“However number of years ago, the 2300 water tanks distributed through the water tank subsidy around Rarotonga have proved to be very useful to households and despite low water flowing through the tank, those who have taken advantage of nearly 2300 tanks are benefiting from having water storage at their household.
“And also not forgetting the water gallery project for Atiu which is contained in this year’s allocation.”
Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau said the water situation was aggravated by lack of decent rain in Rarotonga lately.
However he said his ministry had plans in place to provide assistance to those communities undergoing the water shortage problem.
“At this stage Nikao got the same problem and we are putting in place tanks for more water storage. If the member of Ruaau can come and see me, we can address this issue,” Tapaitau said.