Heavy rainfall strains water infrastructure

March 25, 2024 6:53 am

The water infrastructure is facing a dual challenge: aging pipes and escalating rainfall intensity.

Water Authority of Fiji Chief Executive Dr. Amit Chanan, says that the catchment area supplying Suva has witnessed a notable increase in heavy rainfall events.

Dr. Chanan says in 1994, the Waimanu Catchment recorded only two days annually with over 100mm of rainfall; however, by 2000, this number had tripled to six days, and projections suggest this trend will persist.

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“On a normal day, you know we would get something like 80 NTU, but on a rainy day, it goes very quickly to 400, and that’s like 150 mg of dirt in every liter of water that you’re getting, so treating that requires a lot more chemicals; treating requires a lot more; it slows the process down, so that means that production goes down, so that is the impact of what the projections are saying: moving forward, that will have an even more severe impact.”

Dr. Chanan says upgrading infrastructure is crucial.

“When there is a big rain event, the rainfall brings in a lot of silt and blocks our intake structure. These structures were built during colonial times; these structures were built in the ’50s, so there was no intensity, so we have to look at how we manage this.”

The Water Authority CEO says through the Water Sector 2050 strategy, they are putting forward to the government and to development partners a pathway that says they can do adaptation provided there is investment in the right type of infrastructure.