Mauke residents urged to stop wasting water
Residents on Mauke, Cook Islands, are being urged to stop wasting water.
Residents on Mauke in the Cook Islands are being urged to stop wasting water. The island's water system was upgraded just over two years ago with funding from New Zealand, to ensure a regular supply of clean water to residents on the island.
A Senior Development Programme Co-ordinator for the New Zealand High Commission on Rarotonga, Steve Barrett told Beverley Tse why villagers have been wasting thousands of litres of water a day and what is being done to stop it.
STEVE BARRETT: Water resource management is a critical aspect of any water system. For the water project to happen Mauke was using about 160 litres of water per day. Due to high-line losses - that's the reticulation network - the losses in the line were significant and the household losses were significant. Since the water project has been installed they've dropped down from 160,000 plus litres a day to 90,000 litres a day. It's better, but it's not where it should be. With the population at about 300 it should be down to 60,000 litres a day. Since it's been dry for the last three or four months here in Mauke there's been a conscious effort as the pressure intensified on the resource there's been more and more of an effort by the island government to conserve the resource to make sure the water they do have in their groundwater resource is protected and maintained. To do that, they've closed off their four agricultural wells and are trying various means to manage that water resource by restricting the number of hours a day that people have access to it and things like that.
BEVERLEY TSE: Why do you think the water consumption is so high?
SB: If there's no physical cost to an individual, there's no real demand for change. There would only be a personal commitment to conserving water. If you have free and unfettered access to any resource you have a tendency to, perhaps, waste it. I can't speak for everybody, but that may be the cause for the consumption being very high.
BT: Has there been any talk of bringing in some sort of levy or some sort of tax for water?
SB: The original project concept did have discussions around having a charge for water. And in discussions with the community they understood that, yes. The charges aren't really for water. The charges are for delivery of water to the home. You need to maintain a system to cut those line losses down. And I think with a situation like yesterday there may be some greater inclination for the Island government to consider imposing a levy on the amount of water used to remind people about the cost of the resource.
BT: Is there any education being down to help people to conserve water and to stop wasting so much?
SB: Not that I'm aware of, except for the education. The fact that if you turn the water off people understand. That's an educator in itself, a learning tool.
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