Water restrictions interrupt family life
It was the end of the week and almost the end of the working day.
Elisapeta Toesoliga has left her job at Amoa Resort to hurry home because she just received a call that her husband had some car trouble out in the plantation.
Elisapeta looked so distressed and in a hurry that the Village Voice offered to drive her the 15 minutes to Fusi.
During the drive, we learn that Elisapeta needs to go to the Laundromat before it closes. Sounds normal enough until Elisapeta tells the more complicated story behind the rush.
“We only receive water for like only maybe five hours but it’s in the middle of the night between 10pm and 6pm,” she said.
“For the whole working day we don’t have water. So I’ve been visiting the Samoa Water Authority office and they told me we have to share the water supply with another village called Tapuelele but I think that if there’s 24 hours in the day so we should receive the water for half the day.”
“Twelve hours for us and twelve hours for Tapuelele but we don’t receive water for 12 hours straight and when we do they are during impractical hours.”
“It affects me and my family’s life so much. Everyday it is a hard job for us. We have to get water and fill up all the bottles during the night to prepare for the next day and then we have to repeat again the next night.”
“I have to get up early long before 6 a.m. and wake up my children. The hardest part is that they are really young and they have to wake up so early but I have to get them ready before the water shuts off.”
Elisapeta’s family only uses their water supply for the essentials like drinking or cooking during the day. Because their water supply is so limited they did not see the purpose of getting a washing machine.
Washing their clothes is at the bottom of their list however the Laundromat is not open in the weekend and Elisapeta must get to her washing otherwise they will not have clean clothes for the weekend, or worse yet they might have to use their precious supply of water to do the washing.
According to Elisapeta, these water issues have been going on for about four years now.
Before then, the water situation was fine.
“Four years ago we moved here to Fusi where my mum’s family is from and when we settled here, the water was amazing - full water access every single day. But then after a year, the water started playing up like this and we have been visiting the office and they said ‘that’s how it works’ but that’s not how it worked when we first moved there so how come this has happened? Why are the other villages next to us getting full water access everyday, 24 hours and not us?”
Elisapeta is the breadwinner in her family and is responsible for the budget planning however the administration inconsistencies at the Water authority makes it tough to plan anything and she is frustrated that they are not listening to her even though she has taken the time to go down there and raise complaints.
“The other thing is and I’ve raised this issue with the water authority in Savai’i three times now, my family doesn’t receive any water bill receipts.”
“I know the staff at the water authority are going around the island measuring but my mum is at home and they have made excuses that its because no one is around at home.”
“My mum is at home looking after two of my children every day so I would say that’s not true because there’s no way my mum would not be home with my little children.”
“I need those receipts, it’s important so that I can adjust and compare how much we spend on water each month so that we can budget. I have been paying a lot of money and the water we receive is limited – that’s not fair because we are paying more but using less water.”
“I also raised the issue with the water authority about our water meter not being on our land, it’s on another family land away from our house.”
“I wanted to make sure that the water meter is secure because I’ve noticed that there have been pigs have been running around and because the water meter doesn’t belong to the family whose land its on so they won’t care if the pigs destroy it.”w
“So I asked the Water authority if they could shift our water meter onto our land so we can look after it. At the moment we have built a little fence just for the water meter to protect it until the water authority can do something about it. We will do this because we don’t want to waste any money in case the water meter gets damaged.”