Assessment of water system in Port Olry, Espiritu Santo Island Sanma Province, Vanuatu

This project was initiated by Vanuatu Earth Care Association (VECA) and follows on from a previous
project by Dr Kirsten Davies titled Tabwemasana Research Project. The intention of this project is to
make an independent assessment of the overall water system in Port Olry, including alternative
sources of water and to make recommendations for improvements.
A field assessment was carried out in February 2013. This included visiting key sites and conducting
interviews with people who are somehow involved in water distribution in Port Olry or Vanuatu
more generally. Water samples were also collected from five sites in Port Olry and sent for analysis
in Australia.
The only water quality parameter tested that is of concern is Faecal Coliforms (bacteria derived from
faecal matter). Of the water tested, water from a rainwater tank was found to be a safe source of
drinking water while levels of Faecal Coliforms in open wells were generally found to be high.
Recommendations made in this report target three areas:
• Reduce pollution of existing water resources to protect human health.
• Increase access to safe water by better utilising rainwater tanks.
• Formalise long term planning of the water supply in Port Olry.
Short term recommendations:
• Investigate the lining of the bore to ensure it is intact.
• Build mounds around the pump shed and around open wells to ensure no surface runoff can
enter the water source.
• Fence off an area surrounding the pump shed and surface wells to exclude animals and
prevent animal faeces from infiltrating into the water supply.
• Cover open wells to prevent foreign material from entering and to exclude sunlight.
• Assess if pit toilets or septic systems are located close to open wells (within 30m).
• Installation of further guttering to improve the efficiency of existing rainwater tanks as well
as installing more tanks.
Medium term recommendations:
• Re-instate a Water Committee, under the management of the Catholic Church.
• Produce a Water Safety Plan with the assistance of the Vanuatu Rural Water Supply and
Sanitation Office.
Significant improvements to the water system can be achieved with relatively small investments,
and given the large population of Port Olry, at a low per capita cost. This provides support for further
investment in the water system. The long term objective should be for the centralised system to
provide water that complies with World Health Organisation Guidelines.
Given the common reliance on rainwater tanks for water supply in Vanuatu, the development of
planning and design aides such as lookup charts and water balance models for rainwater harvesting
systems would be of benefit for Port Olry as well as for other parts of Vanuatu. This is an area of
consideration for the Vanuatu Government.
 

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