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Replacing old and leaking water system one of ASPA’s critical ongoing problems

[SN file photo]

Despite efforts over the past years to reduce the cost of water, the American Samoa Power Authority faces the critical problem of replacing an old and leaking water system, says Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who noted efforts continue to deter residents from using the village water system.

The governor’s comments were outlined in the official written State of the Territory Address, covering a wide range of improvements by the Administration during its first four-year term in office starting January 2013. The issue of problems with old pipes and water leakages are also cited in ASPA’s fiscal year 2016 fourth quarter performance report submitted to the Fono last month.

There have been questions from local residents on the water system regarding water leakage in ASPA’s water pipe system, as this has been a longstanding problem even before the Lolo Administration took the helm of government.

In his written address, Lolo says the cost of water has “continued to remain stagnant” over the past four years and lowering the cost still remains a top priority for the administration. However, he notes that these efforts have been “heavily hampered” in the last three years as ASPA is currently faced with “a critical problem of replacing its old and leaking water transmission system” built over 50 years ago by the US Navy.

ASPA continues to remain steadfast in its efforts to monitor and repair leakages among these aging pipes until an adequate solution is acquired to mitigate its entire water distribution, the governor pointed out.

According to the governor, from January to September 2015, ASPA’s water division identified and repaired more than 34 water leakages between AC and PVC pipes. And these leakages cost a total of 1,599 gallons per minute volume in water loss of non-revenue water. ASPA also identified and repaired about 141 lateral leaks among its 137 PE pipes.

As part of its containment measures, ASPA upgraded more than 700 residential meters that were more than 15 years old as well as new ones. Through these efforts, said Lolo, ASPA has been able to reduce residential and cannery water rates by 3% between 2012 and 2015.

In September last year, ASPA detected and repaired a total leakage of 450,720 gallons per daily, said Lolo, who added that the majority of these leakages in the water mains were found on AC pipe joints with deteriorated gaskets. An average of 200 leaks were also detected and repaired on PE service laterals each month.

“It not only caused increasing problems in lower water pressure, but also cost ASPA approximately between $40,000 and $50,000 a month to repair,” Lolo said.

The Administration also continues with efforts to deter residents from utilizing the village water system. Lolo says that because of sanitization and maintenance concerns, the administration is pushing hard to connect all residents to ASPA’s water lines.

In 2014, three villages on the far west of Tutuila Island were connected to the ASPA system thanks to the installation of a new water well in Fagali’i. Additionally, Olosega and Sili residents in Manu’a were also connected to the ASPA water system in Ofu, eliminating further dependency on rainwater.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s “Making a Visible Difference in Communities: American Samoa”, online posting, American Samoa “has significant drinking water problems, with ongoing boil water notices impacting the majority of the population.”

“These problems will only be exacerbated as the territory braces for the impacts of climate change. [US] EPA is working with our partners in American Samoa to develop solutions to ongoing and upcoming challenges facing their drinking water supply, treatment and distribution, as well as other threats to their environment and infrastructure,” it says.