APIA, Samoa — Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Independent State of Samoa is a group of islands located between New Zealand and Hawaii. With a population growth of .59 percent since 2015, the country is continuously improving water quality in Samoa while combating persistent issues such as pollution of natural water resources.
Samoa uses both ground and surface water for all of its water supply needs. Surface water equates to 65 percent of the total water supply while ground water is only 35 percent.
Average rainfall in Samoa ranges anywhere between 3,000 to 6,000 millimeters annually, though only approximately 70 percent of the annual rainfall occurs during the rainy season which spans from November to April.
Currently, the main obstacle preventing improvements to water quality in Samoa is pollution of coastal and freshwater sources.
Two major sources of pollution that affect Samoan water quality are improper solid waste disposal and sediment erosion.
According to Pacific Water, improper solid waste disposal is found particularly in low-lying, densely populated regions. Experts have determined that escalation in urbanization of these specific regions without updated waste management services and unchecked development have caused contamination to overflow into coastal and fresh water sources.
For instance, many houses in Samoa are built next to streams and rivers. The close proximity of these houses leads construction crews to alter the natural flow and routes of streams. Moreover, many of these construction crews dump leftover building materials and waste into the water.
As a result, issues such as flooding, destruction and contamination negatively affect water quality in Samoa. It is noted that this increased urbanization in Samoa has also left many areas with water sources that have dangerously high levels of bacteria which make swimming and water consumption deadly.
Sediment erosion is another water pollutant that has negatively affected Samoa water quality. The Director Fanuatele of the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, To’afa Vaiaga’e, has been quoted stating that, “Soil erosion and sedimentation cause a variety of water quality problems that threaten coral reefs and marine resources. Uncontrolled runoff can also lead to flooding, property damage and even landslides when disturbed soils are not properly stabilized.”
One of the most notable instances of sediment erosion has been the uncontrolled runoff that has completely immersed the inoperable Fuluasou Hydropower Dam reservoir.
Despite pollution from improper waste disposal and sediment erosion, the Samoan government has made constant efforts to improving both of the islands overall water quality.
Records from the CIA indicate that since 2015, 99 percent of the total population in Samoa has access to improved sources of drinking water.
Additionally, citizens who have access to a piped water supply are estimated to be between 90 and 95 percent of the total population of Samoa.
The Samoa Chamber of Commerce has brought in aid from the FESP in order to improve Samoa water quality. The FESP is an organization that focusses in providing education and sustainable treatments for water quality, sanitation, sewage and waste.
General Manager of For Earth South Pacific (FESP) Limited, Harley Sofield, has stated that, “Basically our main aim is to help people reduce their environmental impact by treating their waste water better than what they’re doing or help them entirely.”
The FESP has indicated that any renovations to Samoa’s water treatment plants will be cost effective with little expense to the government or the people.
With these efforts, the Samoan people are positive that they can overcome the issues facing their water quality in Samoa in a way that is not only affordable, but environmentally friendly as well.
– Shannon Warren