The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) found record turbidity (dirt in water) levels at our Waimanu Raw Water Source, exceeding 500 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU), which is the unit to measure turbidity. Turbidity is caused by the deposit of silt and soil sediments into rivers when it rains.
WAF Chief Operating Officer, Seru Soderberg said that these levels were the highest that has ever been recorded, and as such must be processed at a slower rate to prevent damage to WAF equipment and ensure the water can be treated safely.
“These are unprecedented turbidity levels – the highest NTU level that we have ever recorded at Tamavua or Waila was 180 NTU, prior to a cyclone a few years ago,” said Mr Soderberg.
“Due to this incredibly high turbidity, our Waila Water Treatment Plant was not able handle the heavy load, so we had to switch off one raw water pump and clear water pump as a safety measure.”
“This is a necessary health and safety measure. By reducing the inflow of raw water into our treatment plant, we ensure that there is proper settling time before treatment, so we can maintain water quality at a level that is suitable for consumption by our customers.”
“While this temporarily reduced our production capacity, it had to be done to ensure we could still safely produce water at this, albeit at a lesser rate.”
Mr Soderberg added that while the weather had a role, human activities played the major part in excessive turbidity.
“We also want to remind everyone that turbidity is outside of our control. Most commonly it is one of the by-products of human activity within the watershed catchment of a raw water supply intake.”
“Multiple villages and communities are located upstream of the intake and the residents are involved in farming activities, as either a main source or supplementary source of livelihood.”
“Control of human activities within the water catchment areas is one way that turbidity issues could be minimised. With better land management and use, runoff of soil will be reduced, resulting in less turbidity in Waimanu River, as well as all other rivers in Fiji where WAF sources its raw water from.”
Mr Soderberg said that once turbidity levels had lowered, outflow could once again be brought to the required levels, and the pumps were brought back online.
“In the interim, we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and ask for the patience and understanding of our customers. We ask that you prepare accordingly and use water wisely at this time, and to please store enough water for at least 2 to 3 days worth of use at all times, in case of such disruptions.”
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