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By Maika Bolataki

SUVA, Fiji (April 17, 1998 - Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji is suffering its worst drought in 56 years because of the El Niño weather phenomenon, the Daily Post reports.

People living in the west of the main island of Viti Levu have been hit by water shortages since last year and now consumers in Suva and Nausori are experiencing the same fate.

In Suva, the Savura Reek Pumping Station will soon have to shut down, for varying lengths of time, due to dwindling water reserves.

Principal water supplies engineer Paula Wilisoni yesterday said the full effect of El Niño was beginning to propagate itself on Suva's weather and its water system.

He said water supplies at Savura have dwindled to low levels and areas expected to be threatened with intermittent and or no supply include Naveiwakau, Vatelevu, Caubati, Namadi, Tacirua and high areas of Lami.

Mr. Wilisoni has urged consumers to use water carefully and whenever possible store a reasonable quantity for drinking, cooking and washing.

Principal Scientific Officer (Climatology) at the Nadi weather office, Bruce Erickson, said that in the last seven months from September 1997 to March 1998, rainfall recorded was only 40 per cent - the lowest ever recorded in the country since 1942.

From February to March, rainfall recorded was only 28 per cent.

Mr. Erickson said water shortages were likely to worsen as predictions for the next two months revealed that there would be very little rain around the country.

Meanwhile, consumers living on the Navua side of Bilo junction on the Queen's Road will continue to be supplied with water tankers.

Director of Hydrology Ram Sumer Shandil said water restrictions would soon be imposed in Suva and Nausori.

Title -- 1296 WEATHER: Worst drought hits Fiji Date -- 17 April 1998 Byline -- Maika Bolataki Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 17/4/98 Copyright -- Daily Post Status – Unabridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source for reprinting. This PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific, and Journalism Studies, University of PNG.

Please acknowledge Niuswire: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.pactok.net.au/docs/nius/

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