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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (August 3, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The long dry spell in parts of the Solomon Islands has forced people on the small islands of the Russell group, near Guadalcanal, to use coconuts for drinking.

Former Russell Islands member of Parliament, Augustine Rose, says three months of dry weather has exhausted the supply available in storage tanks and dried up water in wells.

Rose says the islanders' normal source of drinking water during past droughts has been on the main Russell group island of Pavuvu. But he says the more generous water supply there has been polluted by logging operations carried out by Maving Brothers, Limited, a Malaysian firm.

The local people on the smaller islands, says Rose, now find it more convenient to climb for coconuts , rather than going by canoe to Pavuvu and walking several miles upriver to collect unpolluted water for drinking.

The former politician says there is a serious water problem in the Russells, which he wants government and logging company officials to resolve.

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