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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 18, 1998 - Samoa News)---American Samoa may be heading for a drought.

The looming danger: the natural supply of water is at a very low level.

The American Samoa Power Authority, charged with the responsibility of managing the water needs of the territory, is making plans to conserve as much water as possible, and at the same time urging the people of American Samoa to pray for rain.

According to figures released by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Service at Tafuna, rainwater levels in the territory have decreased by almost 60% for the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.

From September to December last year, rainfall measurements showed that American Samoa has not been getting its usual rainfall. The measurements have reflected a 50% drop in rainwater for the four-month period compared to the same period in 1996.

"It's real, and unless we embark on a massive water conservation project, we are heading down the same route experienced by our neighboring Pacific Islands such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Northern Marianas, etc.," American Samoa Power Authority's (ASPA's) Customer Services Manager, Gary Sword, told the Samoa News.

"We are urging the public to conserve as much water as possible and to pray that we will receive heavy rains within the next few weeks," Sword pointed out.

ASPA teams are visiting families which have a monthly water consumption of over 50,000 gallons. Water usage by such families should be reduced by 20%, Sword said, and the visits are to determine if the high water consummation is due to leaks, or just plain abuse.

If the residents have leaking pipes, ASPA will repair minor leaks which are estimated to be under $50. The charge will be added to the monthly water bill of the household in question and will be paid off in three payments. Problems costing over $50 will be up to each family to attend to.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com

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