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Ifitoto community, LBJ to get new surface water system using Fagaalu stream water

First step funded by a USDA grant

American Samoa Power Authority is getting a $30,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households (SEARCH) Program.

The grant for American Samoa and 39 other states was announced Tuesday by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a news release, saying that USDA is investing $331 million in 85 projects that will improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas.

USDA’s grant distribution list shows that a $30,000 grant is awarded to ASPA for a plan to “develop new water system 2016”. No other information was available from USDA about the project.

Asked for details, ASPA executive director Utu Abe Malae said the grant is for the "Faga'alu Surface Water System Development Project - Preliminary Engineering Report" and that there is a local match of $30,000.

The project is for the “Ifitoto Community in Fagaalu” - the area behind the LBJ Medical Center.

“ASPA is proposing to develop a new surface water system to utilize the abundance of water from the Fagaalu stream to serve the Ifitoto community,” Utu explained. “The system would also be used as emergency backup or a supplemental water source for the nearby LBJ Medical Center.”

“"We are always grateful to the Federal grantors for helping us improve the standard of living of our people through the design of robust infrastructure,” he said Tuesday.

According to the ASPA boss, the funding will be used to conduct a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER), a critical first step in the development of the project. Further, the PER will determine the feasibility of the project and provide options for ASPA to consider an order to move forward with the project.

Utu says ASPA will contract with a qualified engineering firm that specializes in surface water systems engineering and design for this project. Recruitment and contacting will be conducted according to federal law, USDA regulations, and the Procurement Procedures of ASPA and the American Samoa Government.

He said ASPA would seek additional funding from USDA and other sources if this first phase of the project yields favorable results.

“This project will benefit not only the Ifitoto community, but all of American Samoa by providing a backup water system to its LBJ Medical Center,” he said, adding that at present there are two other surface water sources for the government water system - Vaipito Microfiltration and Fagatogo Microfiltration that is under rehabilitation.

Vilsack said strategic investments into community infrastructure provide a path to rural economic growth. “Modernizing water and wastewater systems improves the quality of life and can help attract jobs to rural communities,” he added.