Water situation bordering critical

Saturday 30 January 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Environment, National

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Water supplies are reaching critical levels in Rarotonga, prompting authorites to plead with residents to conserve water.

The water supply situation on Rarotonga has continued to deteriorate with water regulatory authority To Tatou Vai (TTV) raising the alert level on Friday.

By raising the alert level to “Just Enough”, which is one level below critical, water supplies are now approaching emergency levels.

Water flows have been steadily dropping at intakes around Rarotonga, affecting pressure in the pipes.

The Authority notes that many households have reported running out of water completely, requiring tanker loads to be carted to replenish supplies.

To remedy low pressure, TTV is redirecting the water in some mains to push water into the areas which are experiencing shortages.

Although summer is traditionally rainy season and some rainfall was recorded in the first week of December 2020, TTV notes there has been no sustained heavy rains since flooding last September.

In a statement, To Tatou Vai chief executive Greg Longman said: “While we have had occasional heavy showers recently, they have been insufficient to replenish the streams in the hills, and the ground in the low lying areas of the island is so parched and dry, what little rain has fallen has been quickly absorbed.”

With some rain in the forecast for next week, TTV believes it will be insufficient in breaking the present drought.

Heavy rain affecting Fiji and Tonga in the western Pacific is expected to bypass the Cook Islands on its way south.

TTV estimates it will take several days or more of sustained rain, especially in the central high country, to break the drought.

 To alleviate the situation, authorities are calling on residents to increase their efforts to conserve water.

Level four of the Rarotonga Drought Response Plan referred to as “Just Enough”, was triggered on Friday, calling for a 50 per cent reduction in water usage in peak periods and an overall weekly reduction of 25 per cent.

“We are asking you to help the island by doing your bit to acheive these,” said Longman.

To ensure residents have access to drinking water, strategically placed water stations that have been maintained by TTV over the past year or so and which do not currently have water tanks, will soon be getting them.

This initiative should be completed within the next couple of weeks, TTV advises.

With potable water available from those stations, the authority is urging residents to be careful with their water use and to try to avoid any unneccessary use or wastage.

Residents experienceing issues with their water supply or needing to report a leak are asked to contact To Tatou Vai on 24479.