Samoa Gov’t receptive to Water Power Top-Up initiative

ASPA says they are not considering such an initiative
Source: Samoa Government media release

The Samoa Government has taken on board suggestions for a Water Power top-up initiative identical to the Cash Power top-up for electricity.

The suggestion was made by Taimi ma le Palemia weekly television program host Toleafoa Pili Afamasaga Asiata and it has tickled Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi.

“With a lot of people complaining about expensive water bills, is now the perfect time for government to look into implementing a Water Power top-up initiative identical to the Cash Power?” Toleafoa inquired.

“Cash Power is resolving huge outstanding electricity debts and with an identical Water Power scheme, wouldn’t it give the customer the choice to use water conservatively depending on the family’s income power and at the same time address the outstanding unpaid water bills mounting?”

The Prime Minister said, “… In fact, the same idea was on the table a decade or so ago but it vaporized, as government at the time was concentrating on improving the water supply system for the country. That’s why we created the Samoa Water Authority to exclusively deal with the water needs of the country.”

He said “Back then, there was a lot of opposition in the initial stages when questions arose within government and parliament, if water bills was an issue to address while our country has water woes.

 “… tough decisions had to be made back then,” Tuilaepa recalled. “It was a time when water borne diseases surfaced and it became a major threat to our residents and they needed clean water.

“Today, while some people continue to complain that they cannot afford to pay their water bills, the government is not resting on its laurels.

 “I have been told that less than 1% of our residents are not receiving clean treated water and this is mostly in the remote villages and areas.

“But it’s not stopping government from making every effort to ensure that water supply is readily available.”

He noted that while the government water system, under the umbrella of the Samoa Water Authority, (S.W.A.) is meeting the majority of residents water needs, there is also the Village Water System assistance program complemented by projects financed and implemented by non-government organizations.

SWA services 85% of the population and provides water treatment plants for existing water sources in rural areas. About 18% of the rural population, or more than 32,000 people in 54 villages, participate in independent water schemes, which are owned and managed at the local level.

“And our development partners are also pouring in millions of tala worth of grants every year to improve our water and waste water system especially in sanitation,” the Prime Minister was quick to note.

Of the Water Power top-up suggestion, Tuilaepa acknowledged that it is time for government to revisit their initial plan for such a system to be in place.

The Taimi male Palemia program is televised Wednesday night by TV1 and viewed worldwide on <www.tv1samoa.tv>

AMERICAN SAMOA WATER ISSUES

Unlike Samoa, water and power are both under the umbrella of the American Samoa Power Authority in the territory. Like Samoa however, ASPA only has Cash Power, called Debit Meter which is a prepaid meter.

Samoa News asked the CEO of ASPA, Utu Abe Malae, about water billing — pointing to Samoa’s plan to initiate pre-paid water meters — and American Samoa not having the service, given that both power & water are handled by ASPA.

Utu responded, “We are reluctant to use debit water meters because of the cost and because, for social reasons, water is shut off as a last resort.”

The ASPA CEO added that “we have more pressing problems such as reducing non-revenue water (NRW), replacing wells that are sub-standard, eliminating the boil water notice (BWN), replacing 150 miles of failing service connections and 32 miles of AC (Asbestos-Cement) pipes. 

“To finance these improvements require $100 million over a five year period,” Utu said.

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