Independent water schemes unhealthy

Water sourced from “independent water schemes” are always non-compliant and fail to meet national drinking water standards.

That is the conclusion of a report authored by the water quality unit within the Ministry of Health (MOH), which discussed the results of tests done on water samples from various sources on both Upolu and Savai’i.

Under local law, independent water schemes - are recognised as the second provider of water in Samoa. 

“The National Drinking Water Standards 2016 states that in order for a sample to comply with standards, it must be zero counts of bacteria."

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“But independent water schemes are non-compliant – we can only advocate and push for districts that own independent water schemes – to maintaining high standards of sanitation around the area of the source of water."

“An example is wherever they are getting their supply from to be properly fenced and for drinking water to be boiled because it is not treated and water coming straight from the source like a spring or river,” the Health Ministry reports.

 MOH also stated that they cannot close down a water source where over 100 families depend on. 

“We are currently pushing for the Government under the water and sanitation sector to try and implement Government piping and also to push up the treatment of water distribution. And that is why we are working with the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD) to improve quality of water.”

According to a study on unreported health issues and sanitation assessment of independent water schemes by a private consultant requested by MWCSD, there was a consensus that drinking water from independent water schemes will continue to be a risk. Out of 34 independent water schemes on both Upolu and Savai’i, only 18 were covered on Upolu and six on Savai’i.

The data that was used in the story was collected through survey questionnaires and general feedback from 400 households that participated in the survey. 

The study also warned that independent water schemes had harmful pathogens that could become an issue during the rainy season. The Independent Water Scheme Association serves 30,000 people or 17 per cent of Samoa’s population. 

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