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Clean drinking water projects top ASPA’s list for ARPA spending

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Power Authority has identified nine priority projects to be funded with its $20 million allocation through American Samoa’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 for water improvement to the public water system.

ASPA said the projects will enable the authority to lift the Boil Water Notice, reduce the non-revenue water, improve water quality and better prepare the territory for COVID-19 variants and other pandemics.

Currently, 40% of the population on Tutuila remains under the boil water notice, which extends from Malaeimi to Pago Pago. And when ASPA completes these nine projects, it will improve water services to the quarantine sites, LBJ Medical Center, schools, StarKist Samoa and residences.

Water improvement projects include asbestos-cement pipes replacement in Tafuna — the highest cost project at $4 million. Other projects include well exploration drilling and connection on Tutiula, and water salinity reduction on the east side of Tutuila — to include Aunu’u island.

Documents released by the ASG Oversight Office for ARPA, for the “Drinking water - Transmission & Distribution” program stated that it’s estimated that the current water transmission piping system loses 60% due to leaks, deteriorating pipes and breakdown of the distribution system.

Additionally, American Samoa has been under a boil water notice for over ten years throughout most of the territory. According to the documents, improvements to the water transmission and distribution system are critical as many of the territory’s pipelines are in deteriorating condition and are in need of repair and/or replacement.

Furthermore, there are exposures and wide presence of lead service pipelines all over the territory posing high risk and danger to public health and access to clean drinking water.

Some parts of the island community are not connected to the government water supply system, relying heavily on a dilapidated water reservoir constructed more than 50 years ago.

“This calls for urgency as those villages, households, and businesses are at serious risk and danger due to contamination and lack of access to adequate supply of drinking water,” it says.

While there are times the public is alerted to boil water notices, the document said that “this can be a burden to the public requiring a stove, adequate gas and electricity. This means there are barriers to meeting the proper boiling levels for safe drinking water.”

Others have resorted to purchasing bottled water for clean drinking water, it says but notes that the downsides of this are a bottled water supply shortage because many are imported, and also inflation makes it unaffordable for others to access clean water.

“This makes it much more important to make necessary improvements to the territory’s water transmission and distribution system to ensure safe and clean drinking water is accessible, affordable and available to the entire community,” it says.

(Samoa News points out that senators at one of the ASPA hearings argued that boiling water adds another cost to the already high electric bills for residents.)

As required by ARPA funding, ASPA is seeking community involvement and engagement for public input to assist the project management team during the planning stage and to make any necessary adjustments.

All interested parties are invited to Zoom in or attend the general public meeting on Friday, Mar. 18 at the ASPA compound in Tafuna from 10a.m. to 12noon.

For more information see ASPA paid advertisement last Friday and in yesterday’s Samoa News editions for details on the Zoom session or contact Doug Jessop email ( by 8a.m. on Mar. 18.