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Ruta Mave: Rarotonga’s water treatment system – a costly unnecessary mess?

Monday 29 April 2024 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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Ruta Mave: Rarotonga’s water treatment system – a costly unnecessary mess?
In this file photo from April 2021, a member from the Te Mato Vai Project Management Unit is seen at the newly-built Turangi intake. 21042511

The water quality didn’t need fixing, the pressure did. The water isn’t tainted, the Government is, writes Ruta Mave.

“Water, water everywhere and nor a drop to drink” is the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, who although surrounded by water, couldn’t satisfy his thirst due to it being the salty Ocean. Now desalination machines exist, that can change seawater into drinking water, not quite the impact Jesus had when he changed water to wine, but we take what we can get.

Our little rock of Rarotonga, is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, fortunately we are blessed with rainwater, cascading down from our large volcanic mountains, naturally filtered fresh and untainted by industry, or agricultural pollution until it hits the enormous holding, filtering stations at our intakes. In 2019 it cost $500,000 to maintain annually, now it is $3.8 million. Why?

Up the hill clearing family land is hot work so often I grab the hose and drink straight from it. Very brave and 70s child of me I haven’t died or taken ill, nor grown large sores on my back. My Aunty who was born here continues to drink the water and at 80 hasn’t died yet either.

There are filters, and UV treatment at the collection points now, meaning water quality is considerably better than it was, so why do we need chemicals? You’d think we would ‘dip our toes in the water’ first test the response of the people, instead of ‘jumping in the deep end’ without comprehensive knowledge of the long-term sludge waste disposal issues now being faced.

Prime Minister Mark Brown once quipped why is there a problem? After all we have had swimming pools with chlorine on the island for years and no one complained. Well Mark, that is because no one wants to drink from their swimming pool. And in case you forgot, not everyone can afford to have a swimming pool let alone pay to drink from it.

When the country is ‘keeping our head above the water’ financially with loans, why would we enter into an expensive exercise that is going to cost millions to have it, keep it and use it, when we definitely didn’t want it and didn’t really need it?

This motion of chlorination was ‘dropped into our lap’ without warning and we were told to accept it. They spoke of typhoid in 2019 scaring people but had no facts or relevant statistics. But what can’t be denied is no one has gotten sick from drinking our water. And before you quote the 1960s debacle that was due to the new pipes not being flushed of the dead rodents due to the pipes sitting in storage so long. After they were flushed no illness. We brush our teeth, rinse our mouths in the water, no infections. 

In Mexico or Bali, you can’t drink from the shower in a fancy resort because you’re likely to ingest microbes that can make you ill. Many countries, you must drink and brush your teeth with bottled water – but not here. Other countries cite cases of cancer due to chemicals added to their drinking water. So why add it here?

Now the government tell us why they need $300 million in the budget. We are a small ten per cent of our larger population living on this rock and we are being asked to give the clowns who ordered $1.7 million of worthless electric cars no one wants to buy, more money to waste and squander. I don’t think so.

Government also wants to increase the number of Ministers in Cabinet claiming more in wages and benefits so more will be feeding from the trough on the Parliament gravy train. And they want to bring in the water meters making the minions who pay tax for the water supply, pay again for the water they use.

Someone, somewhere is probably benefitting too much from this deal and it’s not the minions no matter how the Government spin it. 

We seem to be continually lied to, about this water system from day one. The bozos club network is becoming a force within themselves. They act as if they are untouchable as they draw lines in the sand and change the laws to suit themselves. Their water system promised increased pressure it hasn’t delivered. Where is the refund?

Meanwhile it is raining and pouring and the public taxpayers are too busy snoring to notice the government have jumped in bed with their big ego heads and we are all going to suffer in the morning.

We can solve the issues by learning how to catch the rain water directly into our tanks away from the mains supply and meters. Then they will decide to start taxing us for God’s gift, but given how unorganised they are, it might be a while.

The water quality didn’t need fixing, the pressure did. The water isn’t tainted, the Government is.