The Water Saga continues
The second sitting of the Niue Assembly on Thursday 1 March afforded an opportunity for the government to explain further the latest developments regarding the island’s water supply and its intention to bottle and sell the water. In reply to a question from the Member for Mutalau Mrs Maureen Melekitama the Premier Sir Toke Talagi told the House of his dissatisfaction over how the whole issue of contaminants had been handled and said that if the water was that bad, how many people on the island have had to be hospitalised as a result of drinking less than pure water.
The answer to that is probably none he said. He questioned the composition of the members of a Water Committee, set up particularly to deal with the water issue. None of the members on this Committee according to the Premier possess the necessary knowledge and qualification to be able to interpret the data from various tests. His intention is to have another look at the membership of this Committee.
Premier Talagi advised the Assembly that the local water supply will not be jeopardised by the bottling plant. He quoted a study that showed that only 3% of the total available supply from the water table is drawn for normal island-wide use. When the bottling plant is finally operational, the total to be drawn would be between 7% to 8% leaving more than sufficient reserve.
The water bottling venture is expected to earn up to $1m in the first year of operation and anything from $2m to $3 thereafter. According to the Premier the question of households and businesses paying for the water is still on the table but if the marketing of Niue’s water proves to be successful, some of the revenue derived will be used to offset the cost of pumping and local delivery.
So, is the island’s water safe to drink? According to Liku resident Mark Cross, he has had no problems drinking the Liku water but added that his intestinal resilience may be a little more robust than the average.
With regard to the bottling plant, at this stage, there’s is no sign of any bottled water nor is there any information on which contaminant-free bore site will be used. The estimated $1m dollar from the sale of water would have been possible according to government sources had the plant been able to operate from October last year.