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Te Mato Vai water system one step closer to delivering safe and reliable drinking water

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Following previous consultation with intakes landowners, Aronga Mana and the wider community, the Cook Islands Government has now authorised the commencement of the polyaluminium chloride (PACl) dosing trials.

The PACl trials will start at the Ngatoe intake and run for six months at each of the intake sites. These trials will allow for better-informed decisions about the long term future of Rarotonga’s public water supply.

The use of PACl is the second step of the water treatment process and aims to remove small particles from raw water, including harmful protozoa that can cause diseases such as Giardia and some bacteria. The process, called coagulation, or flocculation, sees PACl (a coagulant) slowly added to the water causing small particles to stick together and settle at the bottom of the tank. It is commonly used in water treatment systems around the world.

Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown was pleased to announce the Government’s next steps in working towards delivering a safe and reliable water supply for The Cook Islands.

“Our people deserve access to water that is clean and safe to drink,” said Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown.

“Conducting water treatment trials are part of the standard process in commissioning major water infrastructure all around the world. The PACl trials will help us to understand the water treatment process better so we can deliver reliable and clean water that is safe to drink for our community.”

Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara, Sonny Daniel for the Avana, Totokoitu and Taipara intakes is looking forward to having cleaner water supply with the next step of the treatment process commencing soon and being able to drink water straight from the tap once the Te Mato Vai project is fully operational.

“A lot of times when we turn on the tap we get dirty and muddy water and sometimes there is either no water pressure or the pressure is low. It’s time that the water system is upgraded and I fully support this work as it will get us one step closer to getting clean and safe drinking water for our families our children and the many generations to come,” said Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara.

The coagulation process will be closely monitored during the trials. The monitoring reports will be used to inform Government and landowners’ views on longer-term PACl use. A summary of the monitoring results will be available to the public.

Following recent community concerns about project permits, the National Environment Service (NES) have again confirmed that the Te Mato Vai Stage Two project holds all the necessary NES permits for construction and commissioning.

“As I have already confirmed, permits are in place for the construction and commissioning of the Te Mato Vai Stage Two project,” said Nga Puna, Director of the National Environment Service.

“The Cook Islands Government has committed to managing the PACl trials in a way that protects the health of our community and environment and provided all reassurances necessary that the use of chemicals during the commission will not cause significant environmental harm or breach any requirements of the Environment Act 2003.”

The Government is committed to ensuring the Te Mato Vai project follows all due process in delivering a reliable and clean water supply.

“We are working closely with both the National Environment Service and Te Marae Ora to ensure the health of our community and environment is protected and maintained,” said Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown.

“This project is about improving public health and making sure that everyone no matter where they are on the island has access to clean and reliable drinking water.”

The PACl trials will commence alongside current commissioning activities already underway at each of the intake sites. No chlorine will be added to the drinking water supply at this stage. Community members are reminded to continue to boil water prior to drinking.

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