Sunday, October 22, 2006

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

It's an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean yet Samoa has water supply problems. According to a recent news report from Radio New Zealand International, the Samoa Water Authority has publicly acknowledged that there is a problem, stating that low water levels at the major treatment plant in Fuluasou are to blame.

Of course this isn't news to anyone who's lived in villages like Vaitele, Vailele and Fagalii-uta (where I lived). Watching the water emanating from the taps turn from clear to milky white to murky brown then shortly after stop running at all was a fairly regular past time. I was fortunate enough to have a water tank that at least allowed for a few showers and cups of tea/coffee beyond what my neighbours typically enjoyed.

The water would most often run out during and after periods of heavy rain; soil blocking the pipes and all that kind of thing. This time around however the problem really is supply. The dry season has yet to run its course so there's not an awful lot of rainfall that would result in blocked pipes. Just before I left in mid September I drove past the major dam on 'Upolu and noted that it was almost entirely dry.

I've been told by a friend still in Fagalii that they've been without water for a while now. And whilst the rain isn't falling readily or steadily enough they're unable to catch much water in buckets and have "outdoor showers" as I was want to do. Their situation is a bit of a catch 22. No rain means no mains water; any big dump of rain is likely to lead to blocked pipes anyway. Bugger.

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