Vaiala residents embrace dam plan

The Government’s proposed Alaoa Multi-Purpose Dam has received mixed feedback from residents whose livelihoods are likely to be affected by it.

But residents of Vaiala in Vaimauga welcome the plan, with most of them saying they hope it would avoid flooding like they witnessed during Cyclone Evan.

 The Pastor of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Vaiala, Reverend Iese Uelese, told the Samoa Observer he fully supports the plan.

“This is one of the areas that’s been badly affected by the floods whenever it strikes,” he said. “So the dam is very important for people in this area and not only that, it’s a multi-purpose project so it’s very important.”

Many Vaiala residents say it might also finally bring a solution to problems created when the Vaisigano river overflows to Matautu and Vaiala.

Fa’i Filitoga Auva’a and his family are among the residents affected during heavy flooding and was present during the public consultations with the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) this week.

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 “The consultation has been very helpful,” he said. “As we all know, flooding has been an issue for years and we feel safe that at least something is finally being done to prevent it.

 “Although our only concern is for the dam to be hundred percent safe. We’re counting on the EPC with their effort because at the end of the day, at least something is being done to prevent the flood.”

EPC’s General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, has been leading a team from EPC during the consultations this week, meeting the residents in the Vaimauga area. The consultations cover Magiagi, Alaoa, Apia, Vailima, Tanugamanono, Lelata,  Maagao,  Maluafou, Fa’atoia,  Malifa,  Matautu,  Vaiala,  Apia Park and Moata’a.

EPC says the Alaoa Dam is proposed to combat flooding in the Vaisigano River.

They say the dam would provide a buffer that would prevent the river from flooding, protecting the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of people in the downstream areas of the region. 

But the benefits of the dam would go beyond flood mitigation, the Corporation says. It would also improve the reliability of the seasonal water supply to Apia and neighbouring villages during dry periods. 

And it would also provide the island with much-needed, renewable power generation through a run-of-river small hydropower plant that could provide clean, reliable power to many thousands of people in Apia.

The process is being led by the Government of Samoa through EPC, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Samoa Water Authority (SWA).

If approved, the dam will have the financial and technical backing of the Asian Development Bank and other development partners.

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