Health report reveals water compliance

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has revealed that only three out of 15 Samoa Water Authority (SWA)-owned boreholes complied with its national standards.

According to a December 2018 Communicable Diseases Surveillance Bulletin released by the MOH, only 15 boreholes were tested out of 40 on Upolu and Savai’i – using the National Drinking Water Standards (NDWS) 2016 – and the results showed only three were compliant.

The monitoring by the water quality unit within the MOH includes water sampling, testing, obtaining results and doing analysis. Standards that the unit sets includes the presence or the absence of total coliforms and Escherichia (E.coli) bacteria. In order for a sample to comply with the standards, it must have zero counts of the bacteria. 

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The key findings from the December 2018 monitoring of drinking water: all three Samoa Water Authority-run urban treatment plans were found to be compliant; out of the 26 water bottling companies in Samoa, only one was found to be non-compliant; and there was a high percentage (80 per cent) of non-compliant samples for boreholes.

But SWA Chief Executive Officer Seugamaali’i Jammie Saena, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer, said when all the boreholes were first drilled they passed the parameters of the NDWS.

“MOH report does not clarify which of the 46 parameters that should be tested are non-compliant, but our testing (which is weekly) shows that for the period in question, our micro compliance (which is one of the parameters) is 80 per cent compliant, the rest is in the works this year to chlorinate."

“Out of 26 boreholes in Upolu, we have chlorinated 21. The last five are to be done this financial year. I cannot comment as to the accuracy of the MOH report,” she said. 

“We have to ensure we provide safe drinking water to our people and when there is a need to improve our facilities due to the changing environment and increased human activity around our supply areas, we prioritize to do so.”

The mandated role of the WQU is to monitor and regulate all the water service providers in Samoa, to ensure that drinking water is safe for consumption. 

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