COOK ISLANDS FACES CRITICAL WATER SHORTAGE

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Rarotonga expects drought for three or four more months

By Helen Greig

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 25, 2009) – Rarotonga, Cook Islands is now officially in a drought which is expected to last for another three to four months – and the public is urged to conserve water.

Government is calling the situation ‘critical’.

It was Deputy Prime Minister Sir Terepai Maoate who broke the bad news to the nation in parliament yesterday, saying cabinet had just been talking about putting plans in place to address the problem.

He said cabinet directed the ministry of infrastructure and planning (MOIP) to look at the water shortage matter as a ‘matter of priority’.

The issue came up again in parliament when opposition party deputy leader Teina Bishop claimed he couldn’t have a shower at his Nikao home because the village has no water.

"If something smells different in the house, it’s me!" he exclaimed.

Bishop asked when government would address the matter ‘so MPs can have a shower before going to parliament’.

MOIP minister Tangata Vavia revealed that cabinet had been briefed by the water works department and Meteorological Office director Arona Ngari yesterday and the news was bad.

"The (water) situation is critical and the forecast as far as the Met Office is concerned is the dry spell will go on for another three to four months," said Vavia.

"According to Arona Ngari as well, there are some rain clouds but whether it’s going to come down or not we don’t know."

Vavia said water works would be advising the public to conserve water and invest in containers, such as water tanks, to store water.

"In this situation right now the (water) intakes are very, very low."

Water works Officer Adrian Teotahi told CI News yesterday that the water situation is ‘close to critical’ in Rarotonga.

The department is asking the public to consider its water usage closely. Growers and farmers are among those who are being urged to seriously conserve water.

Teotahi says there is also some concern over many unreported leaking taps, pipes and water hoses around the island.

Water works are now suggesting that households look at investing in water tanks, especially as the demand for water to be delivered to homes is rising.

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