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Opinion

Cook Islanders urged to conserve water as drought kicks in

Thursday 11 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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Cook Islanders urged to conserve water as drought kicks in
Photo: Supplied / Watercare

The Cook Islands meteorological authorities are pleading for community cooperation as the main island Rarotonga experiences a drought that's expected to last for about two months.

The Cook Islands Met Service's Director, Arona Ngari, said with such little rain forecast people need to act accordingly.

"There is insufficient water to last about two to three months, and people just need to conserve water. The Met Service has put out an early action rainfall watch to indicate there's deficiency in rainfall.

"With the amount of people coming to the Cook Islands we certainly need to make sure there is enough water for both locals and visitors."

The country's Water Authority is also pleading with residents to save water.

To Tatou Vai spokesperson, Walter Tuarae-White, said Rarotonga's natural water sources are low.

"But currently where there's wind and also dry weather our streams up in the intake are quite low coming into the system causing a fair bit of low pressure and no water in some of the places around the island. So to that end we are urging everyone to please conserve water."

Tourism chief resigned to drought conditions

Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council President, Liana Scott, said a drought is not out of the ordinary.

"I think a couple of months is quite common and it's not to say we'll have no drop of rainfall, we'll have some short showers but probably not enough to fill up the water mains," she said.

"If it gets really bad, unfortunately, it's the higher level housing or accommodation that feels it the most due to gravity so the ones on the foreshore will be less impacted than the ones in the highland area.

"You know when it's getting bad when you see a Facebook post about people having to top up their water using their truck. It requires funding so that becomes an extensive exercise to be topping up regularly."

Hotels and accommodation operators have been asked not to fill swimming pools, ponds, use water blasters to clean homes, cars and hard surfaces or use water for non-essential purposes.

More than 13,000 people live on Rarotonga, close to 75 percent of the Cook Island's population.