The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) has begun smoke testing of sewer lines, with the first test of the Suva Central Business District (CBD) catchment today (21/08/22) exposing a high number of illegal storm water connections.
Smoke testing involves forcing smoke-filled air through a sewer line which fills the main line and follows the path of connections, which reveals any illegal storm water connections.
The purpose of this exercise is to help identify problems and develop strategies to reduce sewer overflow during rainy weather, and increase the overall efficiency of the existing wastewater network within the Suva CBD, boosting its capacity.
WAF CEO, Dr Amit Chanan said “Our data shows that every time it rains in Suva CBD, our sewer pumping costs go up because we have to pump illegally connected storm water that ends up filling our sewer network. This is adding a significant ongoing operational cost for the Authority and we must catch those who fail to do the right thing.”
Minister for Infrastructure, Jone Usamate, while inspecting the smoke tests, said that he saw firsthand that many property owners along Cumming Street are illegally connected to the WAF wastewater network, which also included road drainage.
“If you are not sure about it, please check because we cannot afford the extra cost and this burdens the Water Authority in terms of electricity charges as well as the quality of the water that has to be treated at our wastewater treatment facilities,” Minister Usamate said.
In reference to the recent amendment of the WAF Act 2007, announced during the 2022-2023 National Budget – which has been welcomed by WAF – Minister Usamate added, “With the introduction of infringement notices, WAF will be strengthening enforcement and compliance to curb these breaches to protect its assets and the environment.”
“To date, WAF has been closely working with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness in this area. With the recent amendments that have been done to the legislation, the Water Authority of Fiji has some teeth now and if people persist with this they can expect to pay the penalties that the Government will pose on them,” he explained.
Dr Chanan thanked Minister Usamate and the Fijian Government for considering this, as it would allow the Authority to impose fines to repeat offenders, which acts as a deterrent for recommitting the offence.
“We are thankful to the Fijian Government for enabling this change. The environment is a key priority for our operations at WAF, the changes to the WAF Act helps strengthen our current efforts to change improper disposal habits as we can now penalize repeat offenders,” said Dr Chanan.
The Water Authority of Fiji will continue to carry out more smoke tests in the coming weeks.
To view the video from the event please click here: https://youtu.be/8HbUqV9pvtU