Dry spell concern

WATER in dams used to supply drinking water to the Central Division could reach critical levels if the drought continues, says the Water Authority of Fiji.

And it is forecast the dry spell could run until January.

The long dry spell has led to the Savura stream flowing at 50 per cent and now it is being topped up by pumping from the Waimanu River to Savura and Tamavua.

WAF chief executive officer Opetaia Ravai said this was managed by operating all four pumps at Waimanu.

“Because of the drought, the water level in Waimanu has reduced and that is a serious danger to the pumps,” Mr Ravai said.

“If the pumps are not fully submerged then its operation could become crippled.

“To ensure smooth hydraulics on the intake, WAF built what is called a coffer dam — sandbags rimming the intake area from the Waimanu that has created a pond which is now deep enough to protect the pumps.”

Water from Waimanu is pumped to Savura where the river is being filled up.

Mr Ravai said a week ago, the Savura river had dried up with nothing but mud.

Waimanu is the first pumping station where a dam has been built to ensure the pumps are fully submerged.

Mr Ravai said Waitovu in Ovalau was feeling the same effect.

According to WAF the West has appropriate levels now.

“Basically what we want to do is extract more water from our sources, as you can see instead of running three pumps we are running four.

“We want to extract more without causing any ill effects.”

Contingency plans for a prolonged drought are already being looked at as WAF doesn’t want a situation where it is not able to fulfil its role — which is to supply safe drinking water.

“The other strategy is we are importing water treatment plants, desalination plants, these are some of the contingency plans we are looking at long- term, we have to build resilience two it,” Mr Ravai said.

“Right now the key problem in Suva is the lack of water.

“We don’t have the capability to treat more water than what we need right now.”

Waimanu and Savura feed Veisari, Togalevu, Lami, Delainavesi and Tamavua through the Tamavua Water Treatment Plant. These represent more than 25,000 households.

To maintain supply, four pumps are operational.

This in turn requires more electricity then WAF has at Waimanu, so to run the fourth pump, WAF is using generators costing them $120,000 per week.

“For the present, the amount of water delivered by the four pumps is barely sufficient for our needs. If we lose a pump, delivery of tap water will be seriously affected,” Mr Ravai said.

“Because of the drought, the water level in Waimanu has reduced and that is a serious danger to the pumps,” Mr Ravai said.

“If the pumps are not fully submerged then its operation could become crippled.

“To ensure smooth hydraulics on the intake, WAF built what is called a coffer dam – sandbags rimming the intake area from the Waimanu that has created a pond which is now deep enough to protect the pumps.”

Water from Waimanu is pumped to Savura where the river is being filled up.

Mr Ravai said a week ago, the Savura river had dried up with nothing but mud.

Waimanu is the first pumping station where a dam has been built to ensure the pumps are fully submerged.

Mr Ravai said Waitovu in Ovalau was feeling the same effect.

According to WAF the West has appropriate levels now.

“Basically what we want to do is extract more water from our sources, as you can see instead of running three pumps we are running four.

“We want to extract more without causing any ill effects.”

Contingency plans for a prolonged drought are already being looked at as WAF doesn’t want a situation where it is not able to fulfil its role – which is to supply safe drinking water.

“The other strategy is we are importing water treatment plants, desalination plants, these are some of the contingency plans we are looking at long- term, we have to build resilience to it,” Mr Ravai said.

“Right now the key problem in Suva is the lack of water.

“We don’t have the capability to treat more water than what we need right now.”

Waimanu and Savura feed Veisari, Togalevu, Lami, Delainavesi and Tamavua through the Tamavua Water Treatment Plant. These represent more than 25,000 households.

To maintain supply, four pumps are operational.

This in turn requires more electricity then WAF has at Waimanu, so to run the fourth pump, WAF is using generators costing them $120,000 per week.

“For the present, the amount of water delivered by the four pumps is barely sufficient for our needs. If we lose a pump, delivery of tap water will be seriously affected,” Mr Ravai said.