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U.S. Bureau of Reclamation provides funding for Tutuila basin study

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata
Bureau investment is based on climate change impacts on Am Samoa

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is making $1.8 million available to conduct a basin study of Tutuila in conjunction with the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA).

In making the funds available, the Bureau points to American Samoa’s challenges related to climate change, water distribution system losses, and reliance on freshwater aquifers, which are susceptible to saltwater intrusion.

 “Congratulations to American Samoa Power Authority for their role in this project,” said Congresswoman Amata. “Thank you to the Bureau of Reclamation and Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton for making these federal funds available in American Samoa, and this effort toward ensuring the future of our water supply.”

American Samoa Power Authority installs, operates, and maintains the public utility infrastructure. The water supply on Tutuila is reliant on freshwater aquifers. These aquifers are vulnerable to saltwater intrusion and reduced water quality from contaminants in surface water infiltrating island aquifers. The water distribution system is also losing as much as 60% of the water conveyed to water users, leading to increased pumping to meet the water demand.

The Bureau investment is based on climate change impacts on American Samoa, changing the precipitation and aquifer recharge patterns. Rising sea levels because of climate change cause saltwater intrusion in groundwater wells and the distribution system.

Reclamation, a bureau under the Department of the Interior, has previously partnered with the American Samoa Power Authority to develop options for improving and augmenting potable water sources, water treatment facilities, and distribution pipelines for the public water supply system. Reclamation's ongoing contributions include consultation on the development of new water treatment facilities, improvements to existing facilities to desalinate and disinfect brackish groundwater, and technical support for the analysis and development of the territory's water resources.

 “This basin study will assist American Samoa in identifying strategies to support and maintain a reliable, sustainable, and resilient water supply for the next generation,” said the Bureau’s International Affairs Program Manager Jeff Morris. “We look forward to deepening our partnership with the American Samoa Power Authority as they seek to meet its future water supply needs.”

Reclamation is providing the funding through the WaterSMART Basin Study Program. Basin studies are collaborative studies that evaluate water supply and demand and help ensure reliable water supplies by identifying strategies to address imbalances in water supply and demand.

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