Aitutaki is again experiencing a dry spell as the island grapples with ongoing water rationing issues.
Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson
Jaewynn McKay confirmed the island is struggling after Cook Islands News was
contacted by a concerned visitor who has been on the island for more than two
While McKay provided a response, Aitutaki
executive officer Tuaine George and Mayor Tekura Bishop did not return calls or
reply to emails.
The visitor, Rarotonga resident Rod
Henderson, said there had been “little bursts” of water in five to 10-minute
spells, about five times a day.
While there were water supplies depending
on where people were located on the island, he said there was a water shortage
right across Aitutaki.
“The locals seem to be used to it; we have
buckets of water which are used in place of showers, and for flushing.”
Henderson said he had been travelling to
the island for 20 years and had never seen the situation so dire.
Henderson’s concerns were echoed by Tamanu
Beach Resort general manager Nick Henry, himself a long-time resident of the
island, who said water shortages had been ongoing for a long time.
“It will be exacerbated by the fact we
have a lot of locals returning.”
Henry said there is a mains water system,
but often it is managed “village by village”.
There had been ongoing issues with water
pump maintenance, he said.
“We do get enough rain water; we don’t
have enough storage.”
Henry said he understood the island
council had made a submission to Parliament in 2017, addressing some of the
ongoing water supply concerns.
“For me the water situation is a result of
poor leadership on the island.
“Aitutaki is meant to be the jewel in the
crown; it needs polishing.”
McKay said the dry spell Aitutaki has been
experiencing, is not an uncommon occurrence.
“Without rain, immense pressure is put on
the underground water galleries, and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) in
conjunction with the local people on the ground who know their situation best,
are working to provide an equitable as possible solution to the problem.
“What this means is certain areas of the
community will have their water supply turned off to allow other areas to be
supplied – a form of water rationing.
“The people of Aitutaki have been sharing
water in an equitable way, a way developed by them for decades.
“The Aitutaki Island Government is encouraging
everyone to be mindful of their water usage, and to conserve as much water as