Cook Islands Suspends Wastewater System Upgrade Effort To Explore Major Sanitation Project

Conversion of domestic septic systems to be included in major lagoon clean-up plan

By Cameron Scott

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 8, 2016) – Present efforts to upgrade Rarotonga’s domestic wastewater systems will come to a temporarily halt while government completes plans for a major sanitation project designed to protect and improve the lagoons on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

Financial Secretary Garth Henderson says the direction of the present domestic system upgrade being undertaken by WATSAN will be outlined in a detailed work plan now under development to determine where on-site treatment facilities can be installed with maximum effect.

The value of the WATSAN programme, which has seen domestic septic systems at various locations around Rarotonga replaced with environmentally friendly and more effective systems is being re-evaluated to see where it fits within a broader sanitation improvement programme.

“The relationship between the project and the suppliers and installers of these systems is respected, and we will be looking for more clarity into the future for both parties,” Henderson says. “Developing an effective solution to managing our waste water, and its impacts on our environment, our communities and our economy is a complex process. “Government looks forward to undertaking this process in a consultative manner based upon sound science, in the best interests of all.”

Under a new proposal endorsed by cabinet on November 8 this year, the existing project management unit for Te Mato Vai will incorporate the management of a new wastewater project, currently known as the Santitation Upgrade Programme.

Henderson says this approach brings together key government agencies under one steering group, gives them an incentive to work together, adds value to their outputs and helps  them more effectively manage public perceptions of their work. It will also give them access to finance for technical expertise not available within those agencies.

“It will provide a high degree of certainty and confidence for our communities and industry.”

Cook Islands News
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