US-EPA awards over $8Mil to ASPA to bring boil water notice to an end by end of 2017
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s over $8 million in funding for the American Samoa Power Authority will be used, among other things, to completely remove the current boil water notice (BWN), which is currently affecting several villages on Tutuila — and connect new water wells to the drinking water system.
“ASPA is targeting the end of 2018 to completely remove the BWN from the system,” ASPA CEO Utu Able Malae told Samoa News when asked about when ASPA plans to remove the existing BWN. “However, ASPA is aggressively working on removing at least 50% of the area currently affected by the BWN by the end of 2017.”
Utu explained that ASPA is currently drilling new water wells to replace the existing GUDI - Groundwater Under Direct Influence of Surface Water - wells in the system, which are the cause of the BWN.
Areas currently affected by the BWN — starting from Ili’ili at the Antioch Assembly of God Church heading eastward — Pavaiai to Aoloau area included — to the canneries — this includes Pago Pago village customers on the ocean sami side of the road only. Aoa village is also currently under a BWN. Map of affected BWN area is available at: www.aspower.com/water.html
Ask how many new water wells are being planned and their locations, Utu said ASPA has already drilled 7 new wells in the Malaeimi Valley and Malaeloa Valley area as of this update. He also said funding from USEPA will fund the connection of these new wells to ASPA's existing water system.
“Six more new wells will be drilled in the next 6 to 8 months with a focus on the eastern part of the island,” he said, adding that the well drilling project is funded by USEPA.
On Wednesday this week USEPA says it’s providing over $8.9 million to American Samoa for water infrastructure projects. Alexis Strauss, acting USEPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said USEPA funding would help American Samoa provide safer drinking water while protecting its coral reefs and aquatic ecosystems.
“We will continue to support ASPA to ensure safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for the residents of American Samoa,” Strauss said in a news release, which also says that since 2010, the federal agency has awarded over $58 million in Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (or USEPA-SRF) to ASPA.
USEPA says this year’s funding will fund water infrastructure to improve drinking water quality, including removing existing boil water notices, as well as prevent water pollution. Targeted projects include connection of new wells to drinking water systems, a new water storage tank at Upper Pago Pago, waterline improvements, and a sewer line extension to Aua village.
Asked what is involved in “waterline improvements”, Utu explained that waterline improvement projects include replacement of old asbestos cement pipes (AC Pipes) and deteriorating polyethylene (PE) service lines in the system.
This also includes extension of water systems to high elevation areas where services are not yet available like the Upper Pago Pago to Fagasa area funded under this funding cycle,” he said.
He said ASPA is thankful to USEPA and American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency for this new funding and “is continually looking for more funds to replace the aging infrastructure and provide better service to our community.”
“ASPA estimates an additional $160 million over five years is needed to replace the aging infrastructure and build new water and waste water facilities to keep up with the growing demand,” he said.
Asked if there is a time frame for ASPA to complete the projects listed by USEPA for funding, Utu said funding cycle for USEPA-SRF funds is 4 years with an option to extend another 3 years. “The projects funded under this funding cycle will be completed within 2 to 3 years,” he added.
In a news release yesterday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata said the USEPA funding would be used to “make our water safer to drink, while also protecting our local marine habitat.”
“It is essential that we ensure the continued safety of our water by updating and repairing our water infrastructure, and these grant funds will be a great help in that mission,” she said and thanked USEPA officials who recognized the need for these improvements and awarded this grant.
She also thanked local officials including Utu and his team, as well as ASEPA director Ameko Pato and his staff “for helping to secure this important funding for our home.”