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Scarce water must be protected

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 8, 2009) – The Kiribati government has supported an international effort to ensure that water resources in the country are used in a more sustainable and efficient way.

Professor Ian White led a team of experts from the Australian National University who developed a National Water Resource Policy for the country.

Kiribati has no surface water resources and droughts are very common there.

Professor White says locals rely on rain water but their main water source are the aquifers in the ground.

But he says there are concerns now that some aquifers in densely populated areas are being over pumped.

"You have to be very careful, often these fresh water zones are fairly thin, are maximum is probably about 20 to 25 metres, so you have to be very careful about how you manage them, if you pump too hard or if you use the wrong sort of pumping system, you can salinize the extracted water, so it’s ok for subsistence communities, with low densely population, but once you start moving into high density areas, it becomes a much more difficult problem."

Professor White says one measure now in place are water reserves, areas where people can not live or keep animals to protect the reserve from over use or pollution.

He says some of the measures introduced in Kiribati can be applied to other countries facing a similar water problem.

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