Sanitation Program To Protect Cook Islands Lagoons Launched

admin's picture

$15.4 million project supported by EU, New Zealand, Cooks governments

By Ben Chapman-Smith

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 19, 2014) – A large-scale sanitation programme is being launched in Rarotonga and Aitutaki over the coming months to reduce the amount of pollution flowing into our lagoons.

The $18 million [US$15.4 million] project will see up to 1000 homes receive upgrades to their onsite, household sanitation systems where they are outdated or are not working correctly.

Spearheaded by the Water Waste and Sanitation (WATSAN) unit of Infrastructure Cook Islands, the programme will take as long as four years to roll out.

Tekao Herrmann, Acting Manager of WATSAN, said the Sanitation Upgrade Programme (SUP) is an extension of a pilot programme in the Muri/Avana area where 238 homes were required to upgrade their sanitation systems with help from a subsidy.

"That project focused on a small area and now we’re widening it," Herrmann said.

He said the aim of the SUP is to "significantly reduce pollution loads being discharged into our lagoons so that we protect and improve the environment and public health".

Physical works under the programme are set to kick off around June or July this year, following consultation with communities and individual property owners.

The first step is to scope and assess the sanitation needs of each individual property, a job being carried out by recently-recruited Technical Co-ordinator Matthew Mazzucchelli.

"There are a number of characteristics that determine the type of system that’s appropriate for each property," Herrmann said.

The 1000-odd homes – mostly in the more isolated, rural areas - have already been identified but the property owners are yet to be contacted.

As with the Muri/Avana project, households will be asked to pay some money towards the $10,000-plus [US$ 8,568]cost of installing the upgraded system, but it will be heavily subsidised.

Due to payment problems during the pilot project, the option of paying in installments will no longer be available.

Herrmann said the SUP will provide job opportunities for local plumbers and drain layers over the coming months.

"WATSAN will also for the first time be looking at sanitation needs in the Pa Enua from the northern to the southern group islands," he said.

The $18 million project is being funded by the Cook Islands Government ($4 million) the European Union ($10 million) and the New Zealand Government ($4 million).

Herrmann said WATSAN is being strongly supported by Minister of Infrastructure Teariki Heather and Minister of Health Nandi Glassie, who gathered for a briefing on the project yesterday.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment