Environment Department update on water projects during World Water Day 2023

Village Council Representatives at the World Water Day Workshop last week, with Hivi Puheke showing the components of the water tank and how to maintain it

An information and educational workshop was held last week to mark World Water Day, in a collaboration between the Environment Department, the Public Health Division of the Health Department, and the Water division of the Department of Utilities.

Representatives from the Village Councils were invited to the workshop to also share their views and any concerns they may have regarding the water reticulation in their villages.

The workshop was also an opportunity for the Environment Department to update the Village Councils on the projects to install the remaining water tanks located in people’s homes which were not completed in the first phase.

Haden Talagi the Director of the Environment Department, explained that the European Union funding of 500,000 Euro (NZ$800,000) was secured to support four key projects namely the Water Quality testing, Installation of water tanks, Electronic monitoring of Resevouir tanks (pilot) and the Management of the projects.

“We are grateful to the European Union and the SPC GCCA project that they agreed to also fund, not to fund the whole components, but enough for the rainwater tanks to be connected”.

Director of Environment Department, Haden Talagi

He explained that they faced challenges with the delivery of the components for the projects because of the pandemic and challenges with the supply chain during the pandemic forced delays to the implementation of some of the projects such as the water tanks installations.

“The main setback has been Covid and that’s the reality of how we were working but we’ve managed to get all the components on the island and so rolling out the installation to the different communities and different households, it’s taken a bit of time, especially with the weather.

So there’s a lot of challenges so I’m grateful to Hivi and his team for the installation despite the challenges”, said Talagi.

The largest project is the water tank installation which includes the procurement of parts needed to connect the tanks, but the homeowner also bears some of the costs such as getting the gutter boards installed first before the team can begin the installation of the tanks.

At the end of the first phase, a number of households did not complete what was required of them to install their tanks so a total of 176 tanks will be installed in this second phase. The installations this time are led by Hivi Puheke.

During the workshop, Hivi Puheke explained the process of installing the water tanks to the representatives from the village councils. He also demonstrated how people can clean their own tank systems and how to care for them to avoid any contamination.

Hivi Puheke demonstrates how to clean the water tanks in people’s homes

Haden Talagi said that they are aware of the number of new homes being built and Niueans living abroad who have returned to live but don’t have tanks yet, so the Department is working on future proposals to help the people who have missed out on the tanks distributed several years ago.

 “We’ve got a lot of feedback. There are a lot of people building homes and also a lot of New Zealand Niueans that are returning. We are mindful of that and we will be looking at writing up another project proposal from possibly another donor that can assist”.

One of the key functions of the Environment department is to write proposals seeking funding from international donors to help improve the resilience of the local population to the impacts of climate change. Haden Talagi said that the Environment Department is happy to do this to ensure the benefits flow to the communities, but it requires different agencies working together.

“A lot of the project work, not only climate change adaptation but also biodiversity loss and pollution control, we have to work together, in regards to all these. We can’t work in isolation and so this is one part of building our resilience to any shocks and challenges that we’re facing globally, is that we have to ensure that the funding that we receive from overseas filters down to our communities”

“We can’t do it alone, we need the support from the village councils and households to do their part as well but we will try our best to develop more proposals for Niue”, Talagi said.

This funding from the European Union funds the Water Quality testing which also includes the purchase of equipment and a vehicle to ensure the team from Public Health is able to visit all water reservoirs and water bores around the island.

The  Installation of Water tanks component also includes the procurement of plumbing parts to ensure the installation of water tanks as well as the labour to install. This part of the project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The pilot project of setting up electronic monitoring of resevouir tanks is another component of the project, which the team at the Environment Department is working with the Water division of the Utilities Department to roll out in due course.

Nine of the fourteen village councils were present at the workshop including representatives from Tamakautonga, Avatele, Hakupu, Liku, Lakepa, Mutalau, Namukulu, Makefu, and Alofi North.

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