OP-ED: OUR WATER SITUATION
A hundred years ago on our Island of Tutuila water was not a problem or even a dreamed of problem. But with the gain in population the demand for water has increased. New technology allowed wells to be dug through the tough lava and we began happily pumping away without any plans for the future.
Five years ago I read a study done by the Feds on the condition of our water system. It warned, “in the event of a severe drought lasting only a few weeks it would be a matter of days not months before sea water entered our aquifers rendering our drinking water useless.”
The recently released 2010 independent report submitted by the CADMUS SURVEY GROUP that was contracted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study our water system makes things seem pretty grim.
By law ASPA is required to make the group’s findings public. And they did that with their “Annual Drinking Water Report “, which was recently distributed to your local post office box.
The important results are located on page six-titled “Sanitary Survey” (items 1-13). Further down the same page is a section titled “Sanitary Survey Violations.” Nothing is encouraging in this report.
According to the CADMUS SURVEY GROUP’S REPORT, “High Salinity Wells Are Forcing People to Drink Untreated Village Water.” So even without a drought seawater is becoming a problem for some of our villages and people.
We all understand that nothing is more important to our survival than water. Living on this Island without clean water would be impossible.
So it is a problem and it does involve us. And it’s easy to blame ASPA for the present situation. After all they are mandated to provide us with safe, drinkable water. But remember ASPA doesn’t raise pigs and they didn’t fill the streams with trash and baby diapers. We did.
And the Landfill that we all use has become a mountain of trash sprinkled with dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste (e-waste). It’s a ticking time bomb slowly leaching its way towards our ground water. (e-wasteis electronic waste and is a result of discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment devices, mobile phones, television sets, batteries, etc.)
But don’t throw your hands up in despair.
What we have done to this island and its environment is repairable. However, we need to come together, take the time to understand the situation, and then act with speed and knowledge. If not, and things continue as they have been we’re looking at a pretty grim future.
Not as grim as the Mid Western parts of the U.S. that are experiencing record heat that is producing a drought that will affect our ability (and lifestyle) here on Island (and World wide).
So climate change is a reality and will effect our daily lives even here on our tiny Island in just about every way. And as we wait for those in power to accept the reality of climate change and begin its reversal we still need clean water to survive.
Here's one of the things our club (the American Samoa Environment 350 Club) has been working on in regard to the water contamination problem.
We've recently been in contact with the Boy Scouts, several local business people, and the Chamber of Commerce. Preliminarily, each group has expressed an interest in providing some form of support as we go about establishing a viable e-waste disposal program. The results at least will get these hazardous wastes off of our Island and shipped to a place where they can be recycled, properly.
This is an example of the community coming together and you can help. And yes our “efforts may only be a grain of salt in the overall scheme of things” but we will have safer water.
Official plans are in the works and will be announced soon.
America Samoa 350, Environment Club
P.O. Box 4942, 96799