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Rep. Sanitoa raises concern over amount of drinking water available in Tualauta aquifers

With a new administration in office, Rep. Larry Sanitoa is seeking Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s assistance in obtaining help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on the Tualauta County flooding/drainage projects, citing possible drinking water shortages if the problems are not addressed.


In his letter late last week to the governor, Sanitoa says he is writing on behalf of the lawmakers from Tualauta for “our constituents and the majority of Tutuila residents, to share with you an approach which appears to have considerable potential.”


Sanitoa says it’s common knowledge that the flooding in Tualauta County will continue to worsen as the district experiences rapid growth and development. “Because we believe you are fully informed and aware of the situation, there is no need to elaborate on the risks presented to our people or to stress the urgent nature of achieving progress on these flood control and drainage construction projects,” he said.


Sanitoa informed Lolo that aside from the ongoing flooding problems in Tualauta, which have placed “tremendous financial hardship on our residents — there NOW exists a concern about the amount of drinking water available from aquifers in Tualauta due to the lack of proper drainage and the runoff water.”


Sanitoa recalled that the Congressman back in December 2009 had written to Army Corps Hawai’i District to inquire about Army Corps assistance in conducting and completing a feasibility study to address flooding conditions and drainage construction projects that are critically needed for Tualauta County.


Faleomavaega had informed Sanitoa and then Rep. Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. that the Corps could help in two ways: by initiating a project under its development authority or proceeding under its cost-shared technical studies authority.


As explained by Faleomavaega in 2009, to trigger the Army Corps assistance under either method, a request must first come from the American Samoa Government (ASG) said Sanitoa, who noted that in March 2010 then Sens. Fonoti Tafaifa and Paogofie Fiaigoa along with himself and Tapumanaia had jointly written to then Gov. Togiola Tulafono and his administration asking for a letter of support and endorsement to the Army Corps to assist with this serious and dangerous problem. 


“Sadly, for whatever reason, Governor Togiola and his administration never responded or acknowledged our request, nor the assistance of Congressman Faleomavaega and the Army Corps,” said Sanitoa. “In hindsight, it is unfortunate, in that if a request for assistance [had been] submitted some three years ago to the Corps, perhaps a permanent solution would have been worked on and realized by now.”


“Consequently, the purpose of this letter is to respectfully ask for your support by making these projects a priority and directing the appropriate departments and/or agencies the task of making such a request for your endorsement,” he said.


“I know you will agree that there are few, if any, infrastructure projects more deserving of immediate attention and dedication of assets which will provide such significant improvement in the day-to-day lives of our people,” Sanitoa noted.