Te Mato Vai and Cook Islands water resources and treatment references, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Te Mato Vai and Cook Islands water resources and treatment references. A Kirkwood, J Flanagan, 2019–.
Compiled by: Andy Kirkwood, Justine Flanagan.
Contact: [firstName] @ islandbooth.com.
Masthead Turangi Intake - 6 June 2019 (still).
Published 28 June 2019. Updated 20 May 2021.
As part of the Te Mato Vai Project to update Rarotonga’s intakes and water main, the government has proposed to chemically-treat all of the island’s water supply; this includes water that will be used for irrigation purposes. This page provides links to documenation about the Te Mato Vai Project (2014-), international drinking-water standards and principles, and local news items.
Cook Islands Environmental Legislation
Parliament of the Cook Islands
- Crown Proceedings Act 1950 (New Zealand Leglislation)
- Judicature Act 1980-81. Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII).
- Dangerous Goods Act 1983. Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII).
- Environment Act 2003. PacLII.
S.36 (1) No person shall undertake any activity which causes or is likely to cause significant environmental impacts except in accordance with a project permit issued under this section.
(3) Every application for a project permit shall be submitted to the Service and shall include an environment impact assessment…
(b) the proposed action to mitigate adverse environmental effects and the proposed plan to monitor environmental impact arising out of the project;
(5) The Service shall undertake public consultation for the issuance of the project permit and in so doing-
(a) publish details of the project in such a manner that these become accessible to the affected public;
(13) For the purposes of subsection (1), any designation, orissue or re-issue of approval of any land (whether by a Minister or any other public officer or authority, and whether under this or any other Act) for the disposal of any kind of waste is deemed to be an activity that is likely to
cause significant environmental impacts.
- Public Health Act 2004. PacLII.
Material including sludge or other by products from water treatment plants is ‘Hazardous waste’.
Section 54(2)(d) “prohibits hazardous waste to be directly or indirectly deposited or discharged, or to seep, into a waterway”.
- Environment (Takuvaine Water Catchment Management Plan) Regulations 2006.
-The Regulations, Part 2: Activities that Degrade Water Quality
13. Use of Chemicals - No person shall take any chemical into the Area or use any chemical in the Area unless its use has been approved by the Management Committee.
- Official Information Act 2008, 2009. PacLII.
11.(3) If the person making the request asks that his request be treated as urgent, he shall give his reasons for seeking the information urgently.
13. Transfer of requests – Where –
(a) a request in accordance with section 11 of this Act is made to a Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation; and
(b) the information to which the request relates —
(i) is not held by the Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation but is believed by the person dealing with the request to be held by another Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation; or …
the Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation to which the request is made shall promptly, and in any case not later than 10 working days after the day on which the request is received, transfer the request to the other Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation, and inform the person making the request accordingly.
14. Decisions on requests –
(1) Subject to this Act, the Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation to whom a request is made in accordance with section 11 or is transferred in accordance section 13 of this Act shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which the request is received by that Ministry or Minister of the Crown or organisation,…
- Rarotonga Waterworks Ordinance Amendment Act 2015
- To Tatou Vai Act 2021
- “Cook Islands” - New Zealand Legislation |Cook Islands Chronological Table of Acts… - PacLII
Cook Islands Water Resource Management Policy and Infrastructure Planning
All reports are PDFs.
- Japanese Designed Water Map Of The Water Systems In Rarotonga (1991)
- Comment on the Groundwater Resources, Surface Water Resources and Water Supply of Rarotonga, Cook islands. SOPAC Technical Report 248. Ed Burke and Giovanii Ricci, Sopac Secretariat, May 1997.
Geology, Stream source waterflows, descriptions.
- Cook Islands priority environmental
Problems (PEC) Report: A Review and
Assessment of the Priority
Environmental Concerns. T Rongo, Island Friends Ltd, SPREP, 2004.
- An Economic Valuation of Watershed
Pollution in Rarotonga, the Cook
Islands. S Hajkowicz, P Okotai, SPREP, 2006.
- ADB Preventive Infrastructure Master Plan - Vol 3: Institutional Analysis and Preventative
Capacity Development. Nov 2006
The Principle of User Pays or Cost Recovery.
…develop strategies for the introduction of user-pays systems in Rarotonga and Aitutaki commencing initially with metered water use and volumetrically varied tariffs for commercial users. As a second step, a variable volumetric tariff for all domestic consumers based on a standard minimal use, levied so as not to disadvantage the economically challenged, should be introduced.
- Water Supply System Description: Cook Islands. D Nath, M Mudaliar, B Parakoti, SOPAC, Aug 2006.
- National Integrated Water Resource Management Diagnostic Report: Cook Islands. B Parakoti, T Davie. SOPAC / Cook Islands National Environment Service, Nov 2007.
ADB Country Partnership Strategy Cook Islands 2008-2012. Jun 2008.
Behavioral changes (particularly attitudes towards cost recovery) will be needed to establish efficient service delivery (especially in water, sanitation and waste management) to ensure that reformed agencies are able to operate efficiently. Sustained government commitment to the objectives will be a challenge.
- Preparing The Infrastructure Development Project
Volume 3: Water Supply And Sanitation Sector (Cook Islands). Fraser Thomas, Asian Development Bank, April 2009.
- Preparing The Infrastructure Development Project (Cook Islands) . Fraser Thomas, Asian Development Bank, April 2009.
This version includes household survey on drinking water in Vol 5: Poverty, Social and Gender Analysis.
- Cook Islands Hydrological Specialist
Trip Report: 28 June to 11 July 2009. P Mason, Niwa/SOPAC, July 2009.
- Freshwater Under Threat - Pacific Islands. D Duncan, SPREP, 2011.
- Te Mato Vai: Facts & News Issue 2. Te Mato Vai PMU, Dec 2013.
- Cook Islands National Integrated Water Resources Management Policy. Ministry of Health, Mar 2014.
- Te Mato Vai
Water Supply Master Plan for Rarotonga. AECOM, Apr 2014.
- Te Mato Vai Detailed Design for Stage 2 Water Tariff Report. Feb 2015. GHD.
The file also contains the addendum accounting for chemical coagulant costs (aluminium sulphate/alum).
- Te Mato Vai Project Raw Water Quality Review Rarotonga (August 2014). Watercare New Zealand.
- Cook Islands National Integrated Water Resources Management Policy 2014
- Te Mato Vai Environmental Impact Assessment Report / Detailed Design for Stage 2 August 2015. GHD.
See also: Te Mato Vai Stage 2 EIA Terms of Reference and Te Mato Vai Stage 2 Permit/Extension
- Agriculture Field Reports Feb 2016. Ministry of Agriculture.
Suggestions by the Ministry of Agriculture, during
Stakeholders meetings in 2014 and 2015 for this
current [water distribution] system to be left for Agriculture and Livestock
use in support of Agriculture production and Food
Security. The response from the Government (i.e.
Mato Vai Officials): challenges in the
lost of water flow in these old water mains due to
leakages; expense. The Ministry of Agriculture strongly
believes that the idea and suggestions to retain the
current water system for Agriculture and Livestock use
is a very worthwhile venture especially for our Food
Security and wellbeing in combating Climate Change,
Prolong Drought due to shifting of global rain patterns,
etc. Involved: Sam Napa, William Wigmore, Patrick Arioka, Matairangi Purea.
Includes Japanese Designed Water Map Of The Water Systems In Rarotonga 1991.
Progressed to Green Climate Fund Project Idea; under Food Security (2016-17).
- Te Mato Vai Project Special Select Committee Report / tinyurl. Parliament of the Cook Islands, Nov 2016.
- Cook Islands National Water Policy (2016).
- National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2020
- Cook Islands Government Quarterly Financial Report. MFEM, Mar 2017.
- Te Kaveinga Nui / The National Sustainable Development Plan: 2017 Indicator Report. MFEM, Oct 2017.
- Terms of Reference for PACL use EIA. GHD Memorandum, Oct 2019.
- Terms Of Reference:
For Supply Of Water Treatment Chemicals. To Tatou Vai Ltd. May 2019.
1.2(iii) Quantities required are indicative only at this stage, represented as an annualised total as below:
A. Poly Aluminum Chloride: 75-100 Tonnes
B. Calcium Hypochlorite: 8-10 Tonnes
1.5 Estimated Value of the Works
The Principal has estimated the value of the works at between $NZD 350,000.00 and $NZD 500,000.00.
- Information Pack: Stage 2 Commissioning. GHD. Nov 2019.
This information pack has been prepared to support your decision about whether you approve the Cook Islands Government’s (CIG) recent instruction to the PMU to begin commissioning the new intake water supply systems, known as Te Mato Vai Stage 2.”
- Cook Islands State of the Environment Report 2018. National Environment Service / SPREP, 2020.
- Process for Te Mato Vai (TMV) one off water treatment plants disinfection and PACL dosing trial. GHD. Feb 2020.
1.2 Water Treatment Plants one-off disinfection process. 1.3 Water Treatment Plant PACL dosing trial.
- Te Mato Vai – Stage 2 – Expert Independent Report. A Watson, Ministry of Justice. Mar 2020.
- Te Mato Vai Aquatic Ecology Baseline Report. GHD. Sept 2020.
- Te Mato Vai PACI Trial Report - March 2021. GHD.
- Te Mato Vai PACI Trial Results Summary. GHD April 2021
- Characterisation of
Samples: Water treatment management in
Rarotonga. GHD May 2021.
- EIA Report: Water Treatment Plants: On-site Discharges
Environmental Impact Assessment. Tonkin+Taylor, May 2021.
Environmental Impact Assessments (NES)
- EIA Report: Sludge Disposal Site in
Rarotonga — Environmental Impact Assessment. Tonkin+Taylor, July 2021.
- Response to submissions to the EIA Report on Water Treatment Plants On-site Discharges. To Tatou Vai, August 2021.
- Te Mato Vai Stage 2 — Desktop Review of PACl Trial. A Watson, Ministry of Justice. Sept 2021.
- EIA Report: Temporary Sludge Storage
at Rarotonga Waste Facility — Environmental Impact Assessment. Tonkin+Taylor, Oct 2021.
- EIA Report: Temporary Sludge Storage
at Rarotonga Waste Facility — Environmental Impact Assessment. Tonkin+Taylor, Oct 2021.
- TTV Board Memorandum, Te Vai Ora Maori (TVOM) Comments to the Chairman. Apii Timoti 29 Nov 2022.
- REA Briefing: Technical Support in Consideration of Tatou Vai
Project Permit 2021/004RAR All Water Intakes;
Project Permit 2021/019RAR Temporary Sludge Facility. Alan Sewell, Lyndsay Chapple. Feb 2023.
Rarotonga Water Quality Datasets
- An Economic Valuation of Watershed
Pollution in Rarotonga, the Cook
Islands. S Hajkowicz, P Okotai, SPREP, 2006.
Medical summary, correllating percentage of gastro illness recorded at Rarotonga Hospital to degraded water quality (not specifically drinking-water quality).
- Water Supply System Description: Cook Islands. D Nath, M Mudaliar, B Parakoti, SOPAC, Aug 2006.
Consultant visit incited intake sample collection from intakes: Avatiu, Matavera, Takuvaine and Tupapa - data not directly published in this report, but referenced from Fraser Thomas (2009) onward.
- Preparing The Infrastructure Development Project (Cook Islands) . Fraser Thomas, Asian Development Bank, April 2009.
Water Quality data references the previously unpublished results from April 2006 - System Description. Avatiu, Matavera, Takuvaine and Tupapa, pp. 218-219.
- Te Mato Vai
Water Supply Master Plan for Rarotonga. AECOM, Apr 2014.
References Fraser Thomas / ADB reference to the 2006 System Description intake samples.
- Te Mato Vai Project Raw Water Quality Review Rarotonga (August 2014). Watercare New Zealand.
Turbidity, colour, UV transmission, pH, metals at intakes across flow conditions. No microbial assessment.
- Te Kaveinga Nui / The National Sustainable Development Plan: 2017 Indicator Report. MFEM, Oct 2017.
Microbial results from village water stations.
- To Tatou Vai public water supply test results (Watercare)
Microbial results from intakes, Mar and May 2019.
- Ministry of Marine Resources Rarotonga Water Quality Reports: 2007-2011, 2013, Mar 2020
Stream and lagoon nutrient and bacterial testing. Stream samples collected where discharging to the lagoon. Nutrient and chlorophyll/algae testing not conducted in 2020.
- Village water station test results – Te Marae Ora / Cook Islands Ministry of Health
Results from filtered and UV disinfected public water stations.
- Cook Islands State of the Environment Report 2018. National Environment Service / SPREP, 2020.
International Drinking Water Standards and Principles
- Chlorine in freshwater and marine water. Water Quality Australia 2000
Australia and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council (ANZECC) guideline/trigger values.
- (PDF) Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Fourth Edition including Addendum. World Health Organisation, 2017.
- (PDF) National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017). New Zealand Ministry for the Environment.
Thresholds for Human Health for Recreation (swimming, waka, boating etc.) surveillance are under-260 and under-540 counts of E. coli per 100mL sample.
- (PDF) National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017). New Zealand Ministry for the Environment.
Thresholds for Human Health for Recreation (swimming, waka, boating etc.) surveillance are under-260 and under-540 counts of E. coli per 100mL sample.
Water Quality And Health — Review Of Turbidity:
Information for regulators and water suppliers. 2017. World Health Organisation.
Disinfection: In lower resource settings including small supplies the aim should be to keep turbidities below 5 NTU.
- (PDF) Drinking-water
Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2018). New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2018.
- Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Management for New Zealand (Updated June 2019). New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2019.
(PDF) Chapter 13: Treatment processes, coagulation
- Principles of Drinking Water Safety (Havelock North Inquiry, Stage 2)
- To Tatou Vai: Code of Practice for Design and Construction of Water Supply Infrastructure. Aug 2019. To Tatou Vai Ltd.
- Pacific Organic Standard. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, 2008.
PoetCom Guideline: Chemically treated potable water in crop production, 2020.
United Nations: World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
- Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Fourth Edition including Addendum. World Health Organisation, 2017.
- (Presentation) Principals and Practices of Drinking-Water Chlorination. World Health Organisation, 2017.
- Evaluation of the H2S [hydrogen sulphide] Method for
Detection of Fecal Contamination of Drinking Water. World Health Organisation, 2002.
- Water Quality and Fish Health - EIFAC Technical Paper 54. Z Svobodova et al, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 1993.
- Indicators of microbial water quality.
N Ashbolt et al, World Health Organization, 2001.
- Measuring Chorline Levels in Water Supplies. World Health Organisation, 2011.
- How to Measure Chlorine Residual in Water - Technical Note 11. World Health Organisation, 2005.
- Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Volume 3 Surveillance and Control of Community Supplies. World Health Organisation, 1997.
- 11 Oct 2011 Raro Water 'Safe to Drink': MoH. Ministy of Health. Cook Islands News.
[MOH chief health inspector Tangata Vaeau] says the Cook Islands, like all Pacific nations, is not able to meet WHO standards of zero coliform parts per 100mL of water because that would require expensive state-of-the-art water infrastructure and treatment systems. Instead, the ministry bases its determination of whether water is safe to drink on whether there are less than 50 faecal coliform parts per 100ml.
- 15 Oct 2011 Water treatment methods accurate. Cook Islands News.
I don’t test faecal matter (poo) in water. I know that what carries pathogens in water is not excrement but mould and fungi. All that needs to be done to make our water potable (drinkable) is to remove the mould and fungi. Boiling water does not kill heat resistant bacteria; water can be boiled for hours and it will still test positive on zincrometer for many pathogens.
Filtration does not get rid of much either. Ozonation gets rid of most pathogens as oxygen kills pathogens and mould. Electronics are the only way I have found to get rid of certain components like asbestos in the water.
- 2 Sept 2012: Clean water for Raro: $65m. Cook Islands News.
Rarotonga's dirty drinking water is set to be a thing of the past, with a tri-lateral agreement promising potable water by 2015.
The water partnership agreement - signed by the Cook Islands, China and New Zealand last week - aims to deliver clean drinking water to all buildings connected on Rarotonga's existing water network. The upgrades are estimated to cost $60 million.
- 29 Oct 2012 Water and wastewater treatment in Pacific Islands to be a priority at GHD seminar. WaterWorld.
GHD, is hosting 15 Pacific Island nation delegates for a technical skill-building seminar to promote the importance of effective wastewater and sanitation management throughout Pacific Island nations.
- 26 Nov 2012 Community urged to conserve water. Cook Islands News.
Water shortages on Rarotonga have prompted authorities to urge the community to conserve water.…
A lack of rain over the last three weeks has left the country’s 12 intakes feeling the pressure, or lack of, with the Rutaki intake giving the highest amount of pressure at 60 percent of what it should be.
- 12 Dec 2012 Water pressure rises . Cook Islands News.
The heavy rainfall from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights has improved water pressure levels throughout most of Rarotonga.
- 7 Jan 2013 Intakes above half capacity. Cook Islands News.
Healthy bursts of rain over the Christmas and new year period have helped restore all 12 intakes to above 50 per cent of their water pressure capacities.
- 20 Jan 2013 Three water supply intakes reach 100% . Cook Islands News.
The large amount of rain that fell over the last week has vastly improved water levels around Rarotonga.
- 1 Feb 2013 Water intakes at full capacity. Cook Islands News.
Up to yesterday morning, a total of 340.1mm of rain had fallen in the month.… the Rutaki intake has 40 metre pressure — it has the capacity to push water up to 40 metres — and 114 percent capacity, which means it is 14 percent over its maximum ‘average’ operating level designated for that intake.
- 20 June 2013 Master Plan for a New Water System. Cook Islands News.
Temu Okotai, who has previously criticised the project [announced at the Pacific Islands Forum hosted in Rarotonga, in August 2012] pushed for the use of rain water tanks instead, wants to know what the price tag on household water will be when the new water system is in place. "They should tell us how much they're going to charge us for the water. They must have some idea. Only idiots would go and spend $60 million without knowing how much they will charge."
- 20 June 2013 MPs Discuss Water Project. Cook Islands News.
The $60 million project is slated to include the upgrade of Rarotonga's twelve water intakes, creation of additional water storage capacity, construction of treatment plants, and the replacement of water pipes in the current network.
- 23 June 2013 Water Quality is a Problem. John Scott in Cook Islands News.
- 27 June 2013 Water Meters Still Inactive. Cook Islands News.
Mac Mokoroa said the meters are being installed to allow [MOIP] to assess how much water is being used. "The water meters are to gauge how much water is going in (to people’s properties).…Until we can guarantee constant supply of drinkable water, there will be no charge…".
- 9 July 2013 Six Tenders for 'Master Plan'. Cook Islands News.
The aim of Te Mato Vai is to deliver water that is drinkable by World Health Organisation standards to the boundary of all residential and commercial properties connected to the current network on Rarotonga.
- 28 August 2013 Public, landowner support is needed. Cook Islands News.
…before the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management gets too excited as they envisage all the extra revenue from water rates in a user-pays system, they need to deal with sensitive land issues and not take for granted that landowners will continue to allow free access to the land on which the intakes are located. Nor has the public agreed to pay water rates. If the government wants to get the public on side it is advisable to start negotiations with owners now and to consult with the public sooner rather than later.”
- 22 Nov 2013 Raro Water Likely to be UV Treated . Ben Chapman-Smith, Cook Islands News.
"The thing with UV treatment is it kills bugs but the longer [water is] stored, the more chance of bacteria returning. If the treated water is exposed to the sun, those bugs can be reactivated." - Matt Molloy, Environmental Health Consulting NZ Ltd
- 27 Nov 2013 Te Mato Vai Project facing multi pronged backlash - Part 1
Issues of resistance that will be raised by two groups, the natural resources guardians: the House of Ariki, Kotunui traditional leaders and land owners; will be diametrically different to those of the Chamber of Commerce and the business sector.
- Dec 2013 (PDF) Te Mato Vai: Facts & News Issue 2. Te Mato Vai PMU, Dec 2013.
- 2 Jan 2014: TMV public consultations set to start . Cook Islands News.
A series of long-awaited public consultations on a large-scale water infrastructure project are scheduled to begin in early 2014.
- 5 Jan 2014: Chlorine Water Treatment Recommended. Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
AECOM's Te Mato Vai master plan recommends a five part water treatment strategy which includes coarse gravel filtration, mechanical filtration, and disinfection with chlorine at a minimum level, with a possibility for further treatment with ultraviolet light (UV).
- 7 Jan 2014: Water Treatment Options to be Discussed. Briar Douglas, Cook Islands News.
"The decision needs to be made by the general public - we have to decide what level of guarantee we want (against bacteria growing to unsafe levels)," - Peter Tierney (MFEM Aid Manager).
- 19 Jan 2014: Te Mato Vai water consultations generates support and caution. Briar Douglas, Cook Islands News.
Secretary for Infrastructure, Mac Mokoroa in response advised that each year the Annual Budget appropriates funds to the Water Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure. This appropriation is for the maintenance of the current water system including staff costs. For the current financial year, the allocation to the Water Division is $750,000. This is an annual appropriation, although the amount varies.
- 24 Jan 2014 Te Mato Vai presentations were inconsistent, says a landowner. Cook Islands News.
The presentation somewhat changed at each landowners meeting and the Te Mato Vai presenters gave me the impression that they were just selling the benefits only and not the full spectrum of the project, including the risks and costs to the people.
It lacked a lot of very important detail, such as the issue of land access, land use, design of the water intakes, design of the water treatment and the ongoing costs of providing potable water.
…Teariki Heather gave my mother, who is a landowner in more than four of the twelve water intakes, his personal guarantee at the Ngatangiia landowners meeting that there will not be any charges to the people, period.
- 26 Jan 2014: Resident says Te Mato Vai master plan "lacks depth". Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
Napa provided a list of eight reports - prepared by local government, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and SOPAC - the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Applied Geoscience and Technology Division - not mentioned in the bibliography of AECOM's master plan.…a March 1992 report on Rarotonga's water supply by Sakura Tsuchiya, a civil engineer from the United Nations Volunteer Service, which appears to include details on water flows in litres per second (LPS) for nearly every pipe in Rarotonga.
- 4 Feb 2014: Changes expected to Te Mato Vai before signoff . Te Mato Vai Release in Cook Islands News
Approximately 500 people came to the nine meetings held with Members of Parliament, traditional leaders, landowners on whose property the water supply infrastructure will be located, and members of the public. The main concerns voiced at the meetings surrounded the cost of the project and whether or not the country can afford it.
- 5 Feb 2014: Te Mato Vai: Other, cheaper options should be considered. Enua Bishop (Former Deputy Director of Water Works), Cook Islands Herald
We knew that the final job to be tackled are the WATER SOURCES. … So that the whole of the island community can share the benefits, a consent of mutual agreement in the society to tap into the water sources on their lands free of charge were achieved without a fuss. This is the main reason why people are against water tariffs. Anyhow, people have always paid for the water they are getting now for years through indirect taxes…
- 5 Feb 2014: Petition calls for a halt to Te Mato Vai project. Charles Pitt, Cook Islands Herald
WORDING OF THE PETITION Article 64 (1) (d) (e) of the Cook Islands Constitution 1964 states 'Freedom of thought' and 'Freedom of speech and expression' We the stakeholders and people of the Cook Islands petition the Te Mato Vai water upgrade in Rarotonga to STOP! We must have a better solution for all that is robust and cheaper to build and maintain.
- 12 Feb 2014: Local groups take Te Mato Vai concerns direct to NZ government. Charles Pitt, Cook Islands Herald
Open letter to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand; Letter B: From the landowners of Taipara and Totokoitu to the NZ High Commissioner Rarotonga.
- 18 Feb 2014: Locals invited to participate in TMV construction. Cook Islands News.
A draft copy of the project's master plan says the existing ring mains were constructed between 1967 and 1968, with the majority of pipe composed of asbestos concrete, with some portions replaced over the last 10 years as part of Project City.
A handful of concerned residents, including former water works official Enua Bishop and Rarotonga resident Sam Napa, have questioned replacing the entire rings mains as opposed to fixing only the leaking sections.
Construction on the ring mains will be able to commence upon the completion of an environment impact assessment (EIA), which Kefeng said he expects to occur later next month.
- 20 Feb 2014: Petition against Te Mato Vai water project in Cook Islands. Radio New Zealand News
A group petitioning against the Te Mato Vai water project in the Cook Islands say when it gets 1,000 signatures it will apply for a High Court injunction to postpone the project from going ahead.
- 28 Feb 2014: TMV petition passes 1000 signature mark. Radio New Zealand News
With over 1000 signatures, Thomson said the committee's effort at seeking a High Court injunction is "pending" and under consideration by advisors, with a current focus on having the petition ready for submission to Parliament for the House's next sitting…
- 12 Mar 2014: Water Leakage Figures Rarotonga. James Thomson, Cook Islands Herald
Investigate and confirm leakage estimates. Price targeted repairs and relining - rather than replacing the island-wide main.
- 19 Mar 2014: Te Mato Vai or Go Local?. Te Mato Vai Petition Committee, Cook Islands Herald
UV systems ($600) and rainwater collection tanks ($2000) will stimulate the local economy, and costs could be distributed by three year homeowner repayment scheme. Pipeline repairs rather than replacement: life expectancy on (existing ) AC pipes is up to 200 years if there is maintenance program in place.
Also letter suggesting rather than leakage, climatic variation with Water Division observation that drier areas moving from the north to northeast.
- 2 Apr 2014: A Response to the Te Mato Vai Petition Points: Authorised by Cabinet, Cook Islands Government. Cook Islands Herald
Comment: Published in advance of the presentation of the petition to Parliament - also in advance of the hearing of the petition by the Te Mato Vai Special Select Committee. The subsequent document presented as the Te Mato Vai Project Select Committee Report (Nov 2016) is a copy-paste of this release.
- 4 Apr 2014: Te Mati Vai petition arrives at Parliament. Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
A petition with
more than 2000 1946[*] signatures hopes to put a halt to the $60 million Te Mato Vai water infrastructure has arrived at Parliament. [**]
Pre-verification count by the Petition organisers of 2439 signatories. [***]
- 7 Apr 2014: Fluoride needs closer scrutiny. Steven Lyon in Cook Islands News.
…ingestion of fluoride does not increase your protection against cavities, fluoride is only effective as a topical agent, meaning it does its work when it comes in contact with the teeth. Fluoride is otherwise a poison to our bodies.
- 11 Apr 2014: No Chemicals Will be Put in Water. Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
Finance Secretary Richard Neves, said the Government had listened to public concerns expressed about chemicals in the water and decided there will be no centralised disinfection of the water once the [Te Mato Vai] project was completed in three years' time.
- 18 Apr 2014: Government Response to TMV Submitters. Cook Islands Government in Cook Islands News.
WHO guidelines allow the existence of 250 ppm of chlorine in the water… If chlorine is added to disinfect water it will be in the order of 0.5 ppm and 1.0 ppm. This will ensure around 0.2-0.3 ppm at the household level which is still sufficient to disinfect and kill bacteria and e-coli.
- 19 Apr 2014: Petition group grieved by lost opportunity. George Pitt, Cook Island Herald.
Te Mato Vai petition spokes person James Thomson said they are in doubt about the manner in which the Parliamentary due process was executed… "[due to] Rasmussen's failure to have the Petition read and his failure to move a motion for government to form a select committee to review the petition then report back to the House."
- 12 May 2014: Health Ministry Wants Water Treatment. Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
- 13 May 2014: TMV Petitioners Question 70% Leakage Claim . James Thomson (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
Source of the 70% water loss claim appears to be ESCAP/SOPAC Workshop, Cook Islands (June 24-26 1998, p.2).
- 14 May 2014: Pure water please. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
- 23 June 2014: Kiwi company [GHD] gets Te Mato Vai contract. Cook Islands News.
GHD will be working with a number of locals to carry out the investigations and detailed designs for Te Mato Vai stage two including the rehabilitation of water intakes, access roads, delivery pipelines, water treatment and reservoirs.
- 2 July 2014: Demo response on petition issue. James Beer (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
Overview of the likely responses to a petition; focus is on purse seining.
- 23 July 2014: Te Mato Vai work resumes. James Beer (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
During construction recently, it was found that no staff from local power utility Te Aponga were on site while CCECC workers were trench digging while carrying out work in replacing the island's ring mains. Not having staff on site could cause power outages or serious injury, emphasised Schmidt.
A second work-stop order was issued due to the CCECC having too much trench open, adversely affecting traffic flows. According to project guidelines, the contractor cannot exceed a limit of 200 metres of open trench.
- 1 Aug 2014: Contractors address TMV issues. Cook Islands News.
Two stop-work orders were issued recently for safety and construction-related concerns, and quality of work issues were identified surrounding pipe construction and specifications with the installation of fire hydrants.
- 6 Aug 2014: Australians awarded Raro water leak work. Cook Islands News.
The 'customer side leakage' investigation is another part of the Te Mato Vai project to upgrade the water supply system on Rarotonga. The programme came about after recent upgrades to Rarotonga's infrastructure, particularly in Avarua, increased water pressure and in turn exposed lacklustre plumbing in households.
- 8 Aug 2014: Early details on water infrastructure project . Cook Islands News.
Key findings presented by Carne included data gathered from a number of meters placed around the island, including: 18 domestic sites, five agriculture sites, nine commercial properties, eight schools, and 12 intakes.
Carne said the average usage rate per person varies between 290-550 litres per person per day…
Last month, officials claimed 60 per cent of water was being lost through leakage.
Includes image from presentation of treatment system: possible coagulant??
- 11 Aug 2014: Will we have potable tap water or not?. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
- 22 Aug 2014: Locals get lowdown on water project. Cook Islands News.
Local contractors have been given an early glimpse of what the Te Mato Vai project could look like upon completion, and told how they could get a chance to participate in its construction.
- 27 Aug 2014: Full disclosure of $24m China loan, says Beer. Cook Islands Herald.
"are there guarantees that cost over runs will be at the cost of the contracting parties and not the cost of the poor tax payer? Because currently there are plenty of rumours floating about that much of the works may need to be redone, or that pressure testing for leaks is being done after the trenches have been covered…The trenches must remain open until after successful testing."
- 1 Oct 2014: Clean Water Saves Lives, Helps You Live Longer. Derek Fox, Cook Islands News.
- 29 Oct 2014: Te Mato Vai work sub-standard?
Despite what may be the best intentions of the project's various stakeholders, Batty said he has reason to believe that the required New Zealand and Australian standards as set out in the Te Mato Vai Master Plan are not being met - based on his assessment of the construction work undertaken thus far.
And taking into account those observations, he said the ring mains could have a shorter-than-expected life span, along with possible leaking at random joints due to poor welding.
- 30 Oct 2014: Govt lowers standards for Te Mato Vai. Cook Islands News.
A second test — called a “peel de-cohesion test” — verifies the quality of welding between joints, but is not part of the contract.
John Batty, a former Te Mato Vai worker who completed a four-month contract as a supervising engineer, described both tests as “standard international practice” and necessary to “ensure the integrity” of the piping being used in the project.
- 31 Oct 2014: CCECC: allegations 'incorrect'. Cook Islands News.
"CCECC fulfils its obligations strictly under the contract signed with the Cook Islands Government and carries out the construction in accordance with international standards,".
- 1 Nov 2014: Clarifying Issues Around Applicable Standards for Te Mato Vai. Release, MFEM.
The previous quality assurance process which was applied during the construction of the pipeline laid through the “Project City” project involved only testing for water pressure.…the laying of the pipeline for Te Mato Vai has undertaken a more stringent two stage testing process. The first stage being water pressure testing, to test for leaks in the pipes, the second test being peels tests to check the adhesiveness of the electro fusion welds that join the separate lengths of pipe.
- 28 Nov 2014: Te Mato Vai reaches stage two. Cook Islands News.
The current model builds on the previous model developed earlier in the year as part of the Master Plan. It is enhanced with new data … This includes verification of the model with data of flows and pressures from a network of meters installed by ICI earlier this year. The designed details of the new ring mains currently being constructed under stage one of Te Mato Vai by CCECC were also incorporated in the model.
- 9 Dec 2014: Declaration notice out of order. Letters, Cook Islands News.
There should be no confusion. The 1960 Ordinance deals with water, not with the ownership of the land where that water occurs. Cook Islands landowners have a constitutional right to be compensated for the use of their land. Any agency that thinks it is going to bulldoze those constitutional rights should think again. When these matters move to the High Court, that is where the question of the land itself will be dealt with.
- 12 Dec 2014 Declaration situation explained. Tamari’i Tutangata CIIC in Cook Islands News.
The second phase of Te Mato Vai is about to get under way … Phase two involves reconstruction of the intakes and the building of storage capacity and filtering facilities downstream from the intakes; and where necessary, the trunk mains that feed water into the ring mains will also be replaced. … The Rarotonga Waterworks Ordinance 1960 provides for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure on Rarotonga for the public supply of water. If procedures in the Ordinance are properly followed, the Government can enter onto private land to lay pipes and construct water tanks and other water infrastructure. This right of entry does not affect the land owner’s right to receive compensation for their land, including for any damage to the property as a result of the works undertaken.
- 15 Dec 2014: [Water Ordinance] Letter supplies timely information. Letters, Cook Islands News.
My understanding is that government assets are on privately owned land and so negotiations need to be made with us. Times have changed and tourism and water businesses have been the biggest beneficiaries of the water intakes, especially with over 120,000 tourists visiting each year.
- 17 Dec 2014: Politically protected Chinese a law unto themselves, NZ standards disregarded. Cook Islands Herald.
Project Managers KEW Consultants are responsible to
monitor the quality controls but try as they may they lack
the political punch to exert full compliance by the Chinese contractors…
- 20 Dec 2014: Public Notice and Declaration
Dated 20 November 2014 Ref/Rarotonga Waterworks Ordinance, s3. Cook Islands Herald.
As part of Te Mato Vai Project most of
these intakes and their trunk mains have
been recommended for refurbishment
and replacement. [Include list of affected land parcels / sections.]
- 20 Dec 2014: Land Consultations Involve 40 Groups . Tamari'i Tutangata, Chief Executive Cook Islands Investment Corporation, (in Cook Islands News).
- 7 Jan 2015: Weekend rain hits water intakes hard. Cook Islands News.
Filtration media beds on the intakes had been blocked with debris and sand and a machine had been put in place to clear and backflush them.
“The job will take two days for both intakes. We started at Takuvaine yesterday and will move to Avatiu tomorrow. However the water main will not be turned off because the 1.2 million litre tanks will maintain the supply while the intake is cleaned up.”
- 28 Jan 2015: Te Mato Vai has it all - political interference, shoddy work, unpaid damage bills, strife between working Groups. Cook Islands Herald.
Rumours surfaced last October that CCECC wanted KEW Consultant boss Latu Kupa replaced as the Project Manager due to incompatible views on the quality of the work being delivered by CCECC.
- 12 Mar 2015: Better done right, says Brown
Many groups are angry at the government for not consulting with landowners or offering compensation for the use of their land. "Some land owners have been militant in their approach and their demands are selfish in nature because they are holding onto a public good," Brown said. …He hoped government would be able to fast-track these objections and that they could be settled out of court.
- 14 April 2015 Time now to decide about water treatment. Cook Islands News.
I’m talking about whether or how, Rarotonga’s new water supply should be disinfected.
- 14 April 2015 Intake landowners like group approach. Cook Islands News.
Options mentioned were a royalty on the amount of water used, or a licence agreement, a lease, free water to homes, or a combination of those options.
Other comments were about the role of customary leadership of our Aronga Mana and culture in relation to our water resource and the possible or even probable attempt at some stage to privatise the supply of water.
- 26 April 2015 Ministers focus on water project. Cook Islands News.
Earlier in the week at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press conference, Puna said Te Mato Vai’s next stage and the questions involving land would be top of the agenda at the second meeting.
“It’s a very big issue… and one that we need to be very careful about because there seems to be a lot of emotion tied up with it,” he said. “Not from all the landowners, but some of the landowners — but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay less attention to it.”
- 11 May 2015 Interference and neglect. John Scott in Cook Islands News.
The relevant Standing Order is S/O 82. It requires that once tabled the petition would stand referred to a Select Committee to be appointed by Parliament.
Government of course was delighted to think that the ill-conceived and constitutionally questionable hasty dissolution of Parliament last April  meant that the whole annoying thing had been brilliantly despatched forever.
Government's frustration of due process with Te Mato Vai Petition and the continuing trench digging and pipe laying have not, as Government no doubt would like to think, rendered further pursuit, airing and investigation of the petitioners' pleas academic. There are many features to those petitioners' grievances which remain to be investigated.
- 15 May 2015: 12.7m signed over for Te Mato Vai. Release, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM).
- 2 June 2015: Water Policy up for Discussion. Release, Ministry of Health.
"I think there will be a big uproar over the proposed chlorination of water in Rarotonga, because a lot of people are already opposed to it," Wichman says. He says it is important that people understand the need for safe drinking water, and the negatives and positive of chlorination. "People should be properly informed themselves before they dismiss the idea based on other predispositions."
- 5 June 2015: [Water standards] Same old issue, different spin. James Thomson in Cook Islands News.
"…what standard should we apply here in Rarotonga? Then what levels of body weight do we use? We need to test for a variety of impurities, diseases and other trace elements like pH, toxins or poisons. These become standard or guidelines and then we need to use a laboratory to carry out all these tests and measure the results."
- 10 June 2015: Bid to Revive Project Petition. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
The motion failed to gain traction when it was tabled during the last Parliament sitting in April last year. The Opposition's rationale for tabling the motion is based on the House of Commons and the New Zealand House of Representatives ruling that when a motion is tabled, it does not leave the House without being dealt with…
- 20 June 2015: Water project nears completion. Cook Islands News.
Te Mato Vai representative Jaewynn McKay says they have laid 44,437 metres of pipeline. McKay says Stage II tenders close on July 21 and construction is expected to start in March next year. The Stage II works include the intakes, treatment plants and trunk-mains.
- 24 Aug 2015: The other side of anonymity . Letters, Cook Islands News.
People have had their jobs threatened if they make a public stand, and this actually happened before the latest march against purse seining. All government workers were told they could participate so long as they were not recognisable as a government worker, in uniform and the like. The directive said they could, but the unwritten between the lines was felt by all who read it and decided they could not risk their job as they had mortgages to pay and stayed away.
Others were whispered to in the bank queue about what could happen if they signed the Te Mato Vai project petition. It was inferred that you might somehow find yourself unemployed.
- 25 Oct 2015: What is water worth? Decision time looms . Derek Fox, Cook Islands News.
The water may well fall free from the heavens, but gathering it up and delivering it to your home or workplace and taps, costs money. And each year we currently have about 1000 people getting sufficiently sick from water borne diseases that they see a doctor or go to the hospital. The young and the old are particularly vulnerable – so there is a cost there too.
- 28 Oct 2015: Intake landowners want $15 million compensation
TMV Project now gridlocked. Cook Islands Herald.
…Government even stacked landowner meetings
with their stool pigeons to
diffuse arguments of claim by
landowners. These people were soon
recognised their presence was to
persuade landowners to support
government and their views were robustly challenged.
Landowners are sceptical
about this government’s
integrity over the warranting of
their land for the intakes. While
they approved in Cabinet in June
2013 as required by NZ Aid TMV
would be a user pay project they
lied there would be any charge
for water, even after installing
water meters they continued
to lie in public meetings. The
information paper attached with
the Cabinet Minute estimated
the expected revenue would be
$1.5 million a year.
- 2 Dec 2015: What is water worth? Decision time looms . Cook Islands News.
Intakes on the southern side of the island – Ngatoe, Papua, Taipara, Totokoitu and Avana, are all running at 90 per cent capacity.
- 11 Dec 2015 Govt takes firm line on new road. Cook Islands News.
The government is determined to continue work on the new road between Avaavaroa and Kauare as part of the Te Mato Vai water infrastructure project despite landowner opposition.
[Mark] Brown said the government accepted that the landowner’s consultation and agreements in place were inadequate in law to survive a legal challenge from any one landowner.
“A legal challenge will not only delay the project, but will also create a tension between the resident landowners who see the benefits of ongoing development and those who are residing overseas who may not be as committed towards the same cause.”
“What is also clear is that whereas in the past people and communities were more likely to allow the use of their land for the common good, like providing a water supply for everyone. Not everyone is of a mind to do that now”.
- 31 Mar 2016: Cooks to have NZ aid directly into budget. RNZ News.
The New Zealand government is to pay its aid to the Cook Islands directly into the country's national budget. This has been announced by the New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, at a joint ministerial meeting on Aitutaki.
20 years ago New Zealand withdrew direct budgetary support to the Cooks because of the mismanagement of funds earmarked for development projects.
New Zealand's development assistance is being channelled into tourism destination marketing, infrastructure development, ICT submarine cable connectivity, the refurbishment of Tereora College and the ongoing upgrading of septic systems on Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
- 26 April 2016: Free water for consumers.
The government has made two key promises to traditional leaders - land for the Mato Vai project will no longer be taken by warrant, and domestic consumers will not be charged water rates.…Brown stressed government had made a commitment that the aronga rikiriki (households) will not be charged any water rates and charges will apply to the commercial sector only.
- 25 May 2016: Huge Cooks water project stopped by land issues. RNZ News.
Work stopped on the project last year after landowners in Titikaveka did not want their land being bulldozed to make way for water pipes. The landowners said they had not been properly consulted. In Dec, the Chinese contractors CCECC left the country with the job incomplete and this week the government has terminated another contractor, Kupa Engineering and Water, or KEW.
- 3 June 2016 Landowners’ views on Te Mato Vai. Cook Islands News.
The first such meeting was with the Takuvaine, as their intake has its own regulation under the Ture (the law).
The owners felt there was a lack of detail on land rights and were concerned to hear the rep’s claim that the minister “is of the view” that the permission of the owners is not required.
Even if permission was needed, that was a mere formality and the government had no obligation to compensate the owners for the land or the water thereon, the rep said. After two presentations, discussions broke down.
Meanwhile time was ticking by as deputy prime minister Teariki Heather had published a public notice to the effect that unless there were objections by a certain date, the project would go ahead.
At the first meeting, the [government] reps reiterated their claim that compensation is not required. Their grounds were that the Constitution was formulated in 1965, whereas the Water Ordinance was much earlier. Besides, government could not afford it, they said. “Not so fast,” the landowners said. “The protection of landowner rights is in the Cook Islands Act 1915, which was decades before the Ordinance.”
By the fourth intake owners meeting, the government people had amended their stance and had agreed to free water but on closer questioning, they admitted it would be free for the first three years only.
- 9 June 2016: Cooks Govt confident water project on track. RNZ News.
[DP Mark Brown has said] … government was happy to address the concerns raised by these landowners through the Rarotonga Water Ordinance. "The first one not to take land by warrant. We have honoured that and we will stick to that. The second was to not charge domestic households for water and we have agreed that we will not charge domestic households for their water. And the third one was that any water authority that is established to manage the water network, that it not be privatised at any time in the future…
- 21 June 2016: Cooks MPs look to resolve Te Mato Vai grievances. RNZ News.
The select committee was established to consider grievances and concerns raised by landowners over the huge water supply project on Rarotonga. It includes four government and four opposition MPs, chaired by the Finance Minister Mark Brown.
He has already said the government had agreed not to charge residential users for their water; that the land would not be taken by warrant and that the water authority would not be privatised. Mr Brown said there were also some environmental concerns that the water catchment areas be protected.
- 24 June 2016 Delaying tactics dismay landowners. Cook Islands News.
Two prominent landowners in the Kauare Road area of Teimurimotia say they’re dismayed that there are people going around trying to delay work on the completion of the laying of the new water main pipeline down Iro road.
“I have no problem with the pipes going through because they are for the common good. Talking about trespassing is way beyond this culture and introduced by foreigners. The people trying to stop this should look at themselves. This is not about individuals or even groups, it’s about the common good. Our ancestors, if they woke up, would be dismayed at how our people have changed.”
- 10 Aug 2016: Cook Islands Part of New Safe Water Project . Cook Islands News.
"I was also impressed with some basic ideas of water purification using SODIS (Solar Disinfection), a no-cost method for treating drinking water using sunlight,"
- TMV report won’t delay project. Cook Islands News.
“It appears that the crux of the issues raised by the petitioners is around the cost of the project and issues around quality control,” Brown said. “Most members [of the select committee] are of the view that the issues raised by the petitioners are essentially redundant as the project is now entering stage two with stage one complete. A number of their issues raised have been addressed.”
The Te Mato Vai select committee headed by Brown also include deputy prime minister Teariki Heather, Internal Affairs minister Albert Nicholas and Agriculture minister Kiriau Turepu from the government side while the Opposition members in the committee include Ngamau Munokoa, George Angene, Selina Napa and James Beer.
- 12 Oct 2016: A good time to rethink Te Mato Vai. Temu Okotai in Cook Islands News.
3. Landowners of catchment areas have given the government the green light to survey areas they want to use for catchment development. However, landowners and government have yet to agree on the difficult issue of compensation for lands to be taken for Te Mato Vai intakes.
- 11 Nov 2016: Shipping Vessels Ban Chlorine Granules, Richard Moore, Cook Islands News.
Chlorine Granules Class 5.1/ UN2880, also known as Calcium hypochlorite 70% and Chlorinated lime, is used as a swimming pool sanitiser. Atlas International Freight sent out a notice notifying importers that the chemical is banned from being shipped in the Liloa II and Imua II.
It further stated that this is a ruling of the owner of the vessels and not the vessel operator Matson.
Chemical importers were requested to talk to their pool-chemicals supplier for alternative solutions.
- Dec 2016: Monitoring the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: An Analysis of Policy in Pacific Island Countries. Release, Ministry of Health. J Kohlitz et al. 2016.
- 18 Feb 2017: New Policy Guides Provision of Safe Water Supplies. Release, Ministry of Health.
- 2 Mar 2017: Now here’s something to celebrate. Richard Moore, Cook Islands News.
Brown said the $30 million second stage will include the construction of sedimentation ponds, catchment ponds, storage tanks and disinfection facilities at each intake.
“It is costly, but it will guarantee good clean water for everyone. Turn on the tap and drink the water. We’ll have to get used to chlorinated water,” he said, smiling.
- 19 June 2017: Te Mato Vai now in full flow. Cook Islands News.
Brown: “This is an intergenerational investment, an asset that will be here for the next 100 years and benefit generations yet to be born, much like what our tupuna did for us over 100 years ago with the first water network.”
The deteriorating asbestos ring mains have been replaced with a much more durable, high density polyethylene pipe. Construction began in April 2014 and was completed in Dec 2016. The project is now in the 12-month “defect liability period,” during which time any defects are to be rectified by CCECC.
- 14 Aug 2017: NZ firm wins TMV stage two contract . The Manufacturers Success Connection.
McConnell Dowell has been awarded the contract for Te Mato Vai Stage 2 which includes the design and construction of 10 water intake upgrades. Awarding of the contract marks a milestone in the progress of the Te Mato Vai project and comes after consent was granted from landowners of all 10 intakes to undertake surveys to provide information for detailed designs.
They will also operate the system with the Cook Islands Government for 12 months at completion of construction as part of a training and capacity building exercise, as well as ensuring the supply meets performance requirements.
- 18 Sept 2017 Intake survey work to begin. Cook Islands News.
In August 2017, McConnell Dowell was awarded the $34.6 million contract for Te Mato Vai Stage 2 which includes the design and construction of 10 water intake upgrades, namely Avana, Avatiu, Matavera, Ngatoe, Papua, Taipara, Takuvaine, Totokoitu, Tupapa and Turangi.
- 6 Nov 2017: Intake investigation work ends. The Manufacturers Success Connection.
The results from the investigations, conducted by Coffey geotechnical engineers and geologists for McConnell Dowell, will provide a picture of sub-soil conditions and nature of the ground where structures will be constructed at each water intake site.
- 28 November 2017 Water intake meetings planned. Cook Islands News.
The proposed design of the water treatment and storage system at each intake site will be determined by site topography, the condition of the ground, raw water quality data, contract requirements, flow water data in rivers, and existing features on land.
Proposed upgrade works will depend on each intake site but will include water intake structure improvements, water filtration and storage facilities (such as settling tanks and a filter unit), scour and backwash ponds to receive water flushed periodically from the settling tank and filter unit and new storage tanks for additional storage capacity.
- 15 Jan 2018: Water treatment remains an issue. John Scott in Cook Islands News.
It is too late, however, to remind the government what all those petitioners prayed in the Te Mato Vai Petition, and which it ignored, namely that all the misgivings and shortcomings of the project be first identified and investigated before launching into something when a more manageable, practical and affordable option might have existed.
- 26 Feb 2018 Ring main works progress out west. Cook Islands News.
The main purpose of the landowner meetings is for the PMU to go back to the landowners with the draft McConnell Dowell design as promised from the previous landowner meetings in 2016 — when consent was sought for surveys and land investigations.
At the latest meetings, finance minister Mark Brown has played a pivotal role in leading the Te Mato Vai delegation at the consultation meetings.
Adrian Teotahi (PMU) presented an overview of the McConnell Dowell 2017 design which covered the differences between the GHD Concept design from 2015 and the advanced McConnell Dowell Design 2017, details of the new structures and any required access road deviations.
- 3 March 2018: Water works running from Tupapa to Avana. Watsan Release in Cook Islands News.
The galvanised pipes are over 40 years old so we are experiencing exactly what happened during Project City water upgrade in Avarua during 2012 to 2013.
- 9 March 2018: Cook Islands faces the price of success . Sam Sachdeva, Newsroom.
During his recent “Pacific reset” speech in Sydney, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Te Mato Vai was “a rather bad example” of the benefits of trilateral aid projects.
“I can’t say why now but that’s a Chinese project and we’ve got problems is all I can say, big problems… We can see a huge aid bill coming for us that should never have happened.”
- 16 March 2018: Call for answers over Te Mato Vai project. Cook Islands News.
People were now wondering why a government faced with such concern and scrutiny over Te Mato Vai had not made doubly sure they did everything within budget, within time and to the standards demanded by such major works — and had failed to ensure someone would be made responsible to get the best out of the project for Cook Islands taxpayers and New Zealand donors.
- 16 Mar 2018: Water intake situation updated Takuvaine Intake Committee.
At the meetings, minister Mark Brown has given verbal assurances on behalf of the Crown on three main points.
-The first is that the project will deliver clean water to the people of Rarotonga. On that all parties are agreed.
-The second assurance is that households will receive free water (to a certain level after which excess usage will attract a fee).
-The third assurance is that the water authority will operate the system on a not-for-profit basis.
- 23 March 2018 Landowners’ thoughts on deed invited. Cook Islands News.
It is correct that the Access Deed does not yet address two matters: First, government’s firm commitment to free water for domestic consumption is not yet in the deed. The precise amount of free water and the charging regime for those who want to fill swimming pools etc or to waste water has not yet been settled and I would like to see those details specified.
- 21 May 2018: Water authority to be set up. Liam Ratana, Cook Islands News.
A Crown-owned water and waste water authority is to be established in the Cook Islands.
- 25 May 2018: Response to TMV Issues 'Scott out to score political points': Brown. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
John Scott appears to be trying to create an image of public financial mismanagement by the government as a political topic to suit his political agenda, says finance minister Mark Brown.
- 31 May 2018: Response to TMV Issues 'Pathetic'. James Thomson in Cook Islands News.
Our Takuvaine Water Catchment Committee met with the TMV entourage at Te Kapuanga meeting house on January 29, 2015. Apart from other concerns we asked for comprehensive financial and engineering diagrams from ICI - including flowrates and volumes going through the water system and the number of consumers.
We again asked the same question earlier this year of the minister and the TMV entourage. In both cases there were no answers, not even estimates.
- 1 Jun 2018: Te Mato Vai Select Committee Issues. James Beer in Cook Islands News.
…the [Te Mato Vai Project Petition] Select Committee failed to discharge its responsibilities:
The delay between the tabling and the eventual hearing was unacceptable.
Witnesses were not sworn in, despite requests from the committee that they should.
Committee chairman Mark Brown denied all requests for information related to costings.
The committee failed to follow procedure set out in the Standing Orders.
The petition was not answered by the Select Committee. The report to parliament failed to address many critical issues and was intended to silence criticism.
The report sent to Parliament was not written by the committee and the views of some members were not reflected in the report.
- 13 June 2018: New water ring main goes ‘live’. Cook Islands News.
Commercial buildings have been receiving water through the new ring main since mid-May as they are directly connected to it. Residential properties are connected to a sub-main, which is in turn connected to the new ring main. Residential properties are also now receiving water from the new ring main, through the sub-main.
- 23 June 2018: Tempoary shutdown tests water mains. Matariki Wilson, Cook Islands News.
…during the investigative shutdown residents within that section of the island should check their house, watertank and any vacant properties to see whether water is being supplied.
- 23 June 2018: National projects 'of concern'. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Petero Okotai, CIIC CEO: "The thing that you don't want is where you spend a lot of money and you build something and it turns out to be wrong because you didn't take the time to consult, or plan and research."
- 28 Aug 2018: Nine Water Stations Unsafe. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 12 Sept 2018: Kiwi to head To Tatou Vai. Release, Cook Islands News.
- 25 Sept 2018: MPs raise water shortage issue. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Those who have taken advantage of the nearly 2300 water storage tanks are benefitting from having water storage at their household.
- 27 Spet 2018: Govt unfazed by jump in TMV costs.
[Mark Brown:] "The water that Te Mato Vai will provide for our domestic households will not be charged…in addition the landowners were also of the view and agreement that households that wasted water and allowed water to run needlessly should also be penalised in order to get them to fix leaking taps to modify their behaviour…And indeed the government is working with the landowners on a deed of agreement which would outline the principles of our water system so that is cost recovery and not profit driven."
- 8 Oct 2018: No Problems with Te Mato Vai Stage One. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
"There is no leakage coming through from stage one which was the Chinese component, and that's completed within budget", said Brown who is also the Finance minister.
- 27 Oct 2018: Report Backs Te Mato Vai Quality Concerns. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 1 Nov 2018: Te Mato Vai Project 'Off the Rails'. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
- 16 Nov 2018: Finance Minister Asked to 'Come Clean' on Water Issue. John Scott (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
- 30 Nov 2018: TMV Legal Battle will Cost Taxpayer: Maoate . Democratic Party (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
- 5 Dec 2018: Cooks Opposition wants transparency over Te Mato Vai. Radio New Zealand News.
Te Mato Vai has been underway for more than four years and parliament has just agreed to up the Cooks commitment to meet a 50 percent cost over run.… Terepai Maoate, says it has to be transparent and release the inquiry report.
- 5 Dec 2018: Government Drops Te Mato Vai Bombshell. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 10 Dec 2018: Cooks opposition calls for inquiry into Te Mato Vai. RNZ News.
- 10 Dec 2018: New Zealand Could Fund Te Mato Vai Repairs. Jamie Keay, Cook Islands News.
- 12 Dec 2018: China Contract 'Disappoints' DPM. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
- 19 Dec 2018: Te Mato Vai Debacle. Smoke Signals, Cook Islands News.
- 20 Dec 2018: What are the disinfection options? Te Mato Vai PMU.
The five principles of water treatment. Disinfection options.
- 20 Dec 2018: Our commitment to delivering potable drinking water at the tap. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Examples of potable water would be tap water from treated water supply systems or water that has been UV filtered, or distilled. Non-potable water is generally raw water that is untreated for example from lakes, rivers, rainwater, groundwater, natural springs, and ground wells. Such water is not considered safe to drink or use in cooking or personal bathing.
- 21 Dec 2018: Te Mato Vai Shines Spotlight on our Leaders. Paapa Williams (Opinion), Cook Islands News.
- 22 Dec 2018: 2018 Avana and Turangi intake sites to be completed first. Release in Cook Islands News.
The five principles of water treatment. What do we mean by 'potable'. Ministry of Health, water safety surveillance test results (2018). Disinfection options. Project timeline.
- 27 Dec 2018: 2018 End in sight for two TMV intakes. Release, Cook Islands News.
Construction of the Avana and Turangi intake sites is progressing well and expected to be completed by the end of April 2019.
- 3 Jan 2019: WHO Guides Definition of 'Potable'. Te Mato Vai PMU, Cook Islands News.
The Ministry of Health has conducted two to three drinking water safety surveillance tests every year at community and school water stations, and up to monthly in the latter half of 2018.
- 22 Jan 2019: A ‘disaster’ Cook Islands water project faces uncertain future. RNZ.
The first warning signs came in November, when the Cook Islands government said the estimated costs for Te Mato Vai had gone up to $US60 million, from $US40 million. The next month, it said 17 kilometres of pipeline needed replacing, after an independent review it had commissioned found concerns with the workmanship.
- 29 Jan 2019: Four Schools with Water Issues. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 30 Jan 2019: Water-borne Illnesses on Decline. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Ministry of Health has witnessed a decline in the water-borne illnesses despite the recent heavy downpours which have increased the risk of water contamination on Rarotonga.
- 9 Feb 2019: Bird’s eye view of Te Mato Vai. Richard Moore, Cook Islands News.
Brown: “This particular intake at Tupapa will be completed by the middle of the year and we are looking at the whole project being completed by the end of this year.”
- 11 Mar 2019: PM Puna visits Te Mato Vai Matavera intake. Release, Cook Islands News.
Prime Minister Henry Puna spent time with David Sloan, the Te Mato Vai GHD water engineer along with Te Mato Vai contractors McConnell Dowell as they conducted a site inspection of the Matavera intake with landowners and media last week.
- 28 Mar 2019: Sanitise Our Water: Anolyte the Way to Go. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
- 6 Apr 2019: Questions Over Water Cleanser [Anolyte]. Cook Islands News.
“We’ve met with Envirolyte representatives and from the technical information provided, we understand the Envirolyte option involves manufacturing a weak chlorine solution (anolyte/hypochlorous acid) using salt.”
- 10 Apr 2019: Key fact: Anolyte = chlorine solution. PMU.
While we applaud any initiative to make local community drinking water stations safer, we are concerned that Envirolyte is being marketed as a chlorine alternative, when it is in fact a form of chlorination.
A subsequent article on 6th April included these comments from the PMU, however statements from Envirolyte continued to deny the use of chlorine in their method of disinfection.
The PMU says, “We are disappointed in Envirolyte’s persistent use of technical language to distract from the very clear scientific fact that their water treatment system is a form of chlorine dosing. It is this fact that enables their system to work, as it’s the chlorine that kills harmful bacteria and viruses in the water.”
- 16 Apr 2019: New Water Station in Pokoinu. Melina Etches, Cook Islands News.
- 9 May 2019: How can we make our public water supply safe to drink? Te Mato Vai PMU.
Public workshops on the disinfection method for water treatment is beginning next week, led by the Ministry of Health, Te Mato Vai and To Tatou Vai.
- 12 May 2019 Video:: Why disinfect our water? Te Mato Vai PMU.
Overview of treatment processes. Filtration to remove dirt. Disinfection to inactivate bacteria and viruses.
- 13 May 2019 PDF: Terms Of Reference:
For Supply Of Water Treatment Chemicals. To Tatou Vai Ltd.
1.2(iii) Quantities required are indicative only at this stage, represented as an annualised total as below:
A. Poly Aluminum Chloride: 75-100 Tonnes
B. Calcium Hypochlorite: 8-10 Tonnes
1.5 Estimated Value of the Works
The Principal has estimated the value of the works at between $NZD 350,000.00 and $NZD 500,000.00.
- 16 May 2019: Banning dangerous cargoes not the solution to stamping out container fires. Markus Hand, Seatrade Maritime News.
"We see that a lot of the major container liners are banning some of the cargoes such as calcium hypochlorite. They are simply refusing to carry it - that doesn't help. The industry need calcium hydrochloride so by banning it more shippers will simply mis-declare it and try and get it on board anyway," Vandenborn told a Nautical Institute Conference in Singapore on Wednesday.
"And even lines who are banning it [calcium hypochlorite] may get it back anyway via slot charter who puts it on their ship and it will still be their funnel that gets on the news when the ship catches fire."
- 18 May 2019: Leaders Against Chlorination. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
- 20 May 2019: Worried about the taste of chlorine? The dose is tiny and it's easy to remove. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Q: Doesn't chlorine make the water taste terrible?
Q: How much chlorine would you put in the water?
- 20 May 2019:: Why disinfect our water? We answer some frequently asked questions. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Q: Why should we disinfect when we've been drinking our water without a problem for years?
Q: What does 'potable' mean?
Q: What standards are you using to judge whether water is safe or not?
Q: Why should we trust the PMU's advice on this?
Q: Will the Government introduce tariffs to pay for disinfection?
- 23 May 2019: Is chlorine safe for the environment? Te Mato Vai PMU.
Q: If the water is chlorinated, can we still use it on our gardens and food crops?
Q: If the water is chlorinated, will it affect the marine environment?
- 23 May 2019: You asked us why we can't use other types of water disinfection - here are the answers. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Q: Why don't we use in-home UV treatment instead?
Q: Why don't we just boil our water instead?
Q: Why don't we just keep using the community water stations?
- 23 May 2019: Here are our answers to your health-related questions about disinfection. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Q: I've been drinking our water for years and I've never been ill - is it really unsafe?
Q: What if I am allergic to chlorine?
Q: How much do charcoal filters costs?
Q: Will the Government subsidise charcoal filters?
- 25 May 2019: Majority Against MP's Payrise / Water Disinfection Poll. Rushnell Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 27 May 2019: Chlorine 'Safest' Option for Water. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
- 29 May 2019: Water Treatment 'Misinformation' Noted. Cook Islands News.
"The [MoH water safety test] results prove our water supply contains dangerous levels of faecal coliform bacteria. The test results clearly show our water is unsafe for drinking, bathing and food preparation.
Not every person infected from contaminated water falls ill, but young children, the elderly and unwell are more vulnerable because they have a lower resistance to disease."
The Te Mato Vai project management unit has recommended chlorination as the most suitable disinfection option for Rarotonga. "Our disinfection options assessment included safety, complexity, reliability, capital cost, and ongoing operational and maintenance costs. Based on this assessment, chlorination is the safest, most cost-effective and reliable disinfection system for Rarotonga."
"Even if the government chooses an alternative disinfection method to chlorine (for example UV) chlorine will still be added to the water to disinfect the pipes. This is necessary to ensure the water network remains safe from contamination. Chlorine is the only method that can achieve this."
- 1 June 2019: Water Disinfection Explained. Dr Ian Calhaem (Advertorial), Cook Islands News.
- 5 June 2019: Chlorine in the Water: The Big Call. Rushnell Kumar, Cook Islands News.
- 17 June 2019: Chlorinating our water supply, yes or no?. Te Ipukarea Society in Cook Islands News.
The complete release includes additional point (6) - That the public are finding hard to accept that water is making us sick, if water is 'bad' research should be publicised to protect public health.
- 29 June 2019: Locals Mobilise against Chemical Disinfection. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
- 4 July 2019: 'Duplicity' over chlorine in water. Rushnell Kumar, Cook Islands News.
On May 7, government put out its tender for supply of water treatment chemicals - polyaluminum chloride and calcium hypochlorite - while the "public consultation" was just beginning. By the time the consultation concluded on May 30, the tender was also closing.
- 4 July 2019: Editorial: Chlorine brought in by bulldozer. Jonathan Milne (Ed.), Cook Islands News.
'I'd rather take on the one-in-a-thousand risk that chlorine contribute to cancer in old age, than the extraordinarily high risk of severe illness and death caused by the water-borne illnesses that have plagued the Cooks and developing nations.'
'…everyone has a stake in a decision of this size. This is where government becomes something affecting the day-to-day life of every person on our biggest island.'
- 6 July 2019: 'We don't want typhoid in our country' - Brown. Rushnell Kumar, Cook Islands News.
The new water tests revealed "unacceptable counts of e-coli in our water", he said.
- 6 July 2019: Chlorine concern is a fuss about nothing. Letter to the Editor, Cook Islands News.
'Whilst I personally think it [chlorination] is a great idea, I cannot see how calcium hypochlorite can be shipped to the Cook Islands, as our only international shipping operator, Matson, will not load this product.'
- 10 July 2019: Take ‘emotion’ out of water row. Melina Etches. Cook Islands News.
Chlorination is the “only way” to keep Rarotonga’s water pipes safe and clean, say two experts. (Ibbetson and Henderson).
- 13 July 2019: Letters: 'Experts' give chlorine no credence. Mike Carr, Cook Islands News.
"The biggest challenge is that Government lacks credibility over this whole water project. Chlorination may be the best option for us, but the void of information - including options - leave many of us uncertain."
- 13 July 2019: Chlorine is in the Country. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
This week the government's Project Management Unit confirmed disinfection chemicals (calcium hypochlorite and polyaluminium chloride) had been procured by pipeline construction agency Te Mato Vai, and were being held in a secure facility. Henderson said the chemicals has been provided to the contractor for the purposes of commissioning and testing the filtration and potential disinfection systems for Te Mato Vai project.
- 16 July 2019: Chlorination was 'always envisaged' by Government. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
"I am comfortable that chlorination in some form was always envisaged by many government officials as the potential preferred option, simply on the basis of World Health Organisation recommendation and best practice in many countries," Henderson said.
"I am particularly supportive of chlorination for those of our community members who are older and more vulnerable health-wise, not as able physical and financially to buy bottled water, use gas to boil water or pickup water from the community water stations or hook up a water tank to their roofs."
- 16 July 2019: What are the disinfection options? Te Mato Vai PMU.
…the PMU recommends chlorination (using a chlorine solution made in Rarotonga from imported chlorine granule) as the safest, most cost-effective and reliable disinfection system for Rarotonga. Table comparing disinfection methods.
- 19 July 2019: Court action against chlorine. Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
[Landowner] have reason to believe that the government decision to install a system of disinfection using chlorination was pre-determined, he says, before any consent was obtained from landowners and before the public consultation meetings took place.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation's Tamarii Tutangata said the landowners were entitled to ask questions through the Court. "That is exactly why applications lay in Court so that parties can apply for urgent relief," said Tutangata, the Asset Management Cook Islands general manager.
Financial secretary Garth Henderson said: "I am not fully aware of the legal consequences of this application at this point in time, however I do have confidence that the rule of law will prevail and rights of all parties will be respected."
- 20 July 2019: Tests prove disinfection is needed. Te Mato Vai PMU.
E.coli is an indicator that there is faeces in the water. If there are faeces then it is likely that there will be pathogens in the water as well. The only acceptable level of E.coli in drinking water is zero.
- 22 July 2019: "Access to safe drinking water is a human right" - UN 2010. Release, Te Marae Ora.
…there has been no bacteriologically confirmed water-borne bacterial or viral illnesses reported to Te Marae Ora…
- 23 July 2019: Cooks govt happy to keep talking about water purifying. RNZ News.
The Cook Islands deputy prime minister says the government has every intention of speaking more with the people of Rarotonga about how to purify the island's water.
- 23 July 2019: 'We are not in favour of Confrontation'. Melina Etches, Cook Islands News.
The Ministry of Health has no idea whether people have suffered or died from waterborne illnesses, and how many.
[Tere Carr] "Why is money going to chlorinate and add more stress to our environment and bodies when we should be investing in the health of our people. That's what is contributing to killing them… not water."
- 23 July 2019: Letters: Petition against chlorine. Papa Williams in Cook Islands News.
"Phillip Nicholas, on behalf of myself and no doubt many of your people: 'you are the man!' Your people will support you. The landowners and the many supporters of Te Vai Ora Maori, will give government one hell of a black eye, before chlorinated water ever touches our lips.
The real action is only beginning, where government will rue their dismissive, arrogant and dictatorial behaviour towards us, the people."
- 24 July 2019: Health leaders' stark warning: Sickness, death - or chlorination. Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
Another medical expert, Auckland University Medical School associate professor Mark Thomas, attended Rarotonga's health conference this month.
He said there was "no compelling or credible evidence that chlorination poses any risks to consumers" and it was "very widely used " in drinking water supplies in New Zealand and around the world.
"Sooner or later there will be significant contamination of the Rarotongan water system, that may only last a matter of a few days, or may last longer," he said last night. "If a water treatment programme is in place, then the number of people who will be affected will be very much less."
- 24 July 2019: Letters: Medical expert: 'No evidence chlorination poses any risk'. Associate Professor Mark Thomas in Cook Islands News.
In consequence the [Havelock North, New Zealand] enquiry concluded, firmly and unequivocally, that an appropriate and effective form of treatment of drinking water should be mandated by law for all networked supplies throughout New Zealand.
With regard to chlorination, the inquiry concluded that there is no compelling or credible evidence that chlorination poses any risks to consumers.
- 25 July 2019: Sickness, death or chlorine - Cook Islands govt. RNZ News.
Cook Islanders will die if their water isn't disinfected according to government and independent experts.
- 25 July 2019: Water filters cost less. Bill Carruthers in Cook Islands News.
There are benchtop water filters freely available that guarantee the removal of e-coli and other contaminants to about 99.99 per cent. They sell at retail in NZ for $185. They can be installed in minutes by almost anyone.
- 27 July 2019: Anolyte champion in last-ditch bid . Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
Purification of water [is] a multistage process…"The source of the water must be made as good as is practically possible and this requires the land around the intakes to be as clear as possible from contamination sources, such as animals," The preservation or enhancement of the vegetation around the intakes to minimise soil erosion is also important as this will reduce the silt."
Electrochemical Neutral Anolyte (Hypochlorous Acid) is 100 per cent safe, fast acting (10-60 sec), by-products are salt and water with no special handling, kills giadia and crypto and is simple to use.
- 27 July 2019: Lobby group launches anti-chlorine petition. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
…recent water quality test indicate high levels of potentially harmful bacteria which the government says can be removed through disinfection.
Te Vai Ora Maori say they believe Rarotonga can have clean and safe water - without chlorination.
- 27 July 2019: What's in your water? . Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
Waving to passersby who recognise him for his activities in the Tupapa area, Maggie goes on to say: "I believe if we are sick we don't run to the water or anybody else but to a doctor to a medical specialist. If the doctor approves this water, the government has to stand behind them. It's not the government changing the water system, it's the medical experts. I think hard people - we are not forcing anyone, this comes from medical specialists."
Angene says he uses the water from this same station and the tap water [at home] is usually used for bathing and washing.
- 29 July 2019: PACl supply crucial for effective water treatment system. Te Mato Vai PMU.
The Te Mato Vai Project Management Unit (PMU) has ordered a 'coagulant' chemical to enable a key step in the new four-step water treatment process that will provide reliably safe water to Rarotonga's communities. Coagulant plays a key role in cleaning the water but is different from disinfection, which kills bacteria and viruses….If a coagulant step was not used, the AVG filters would likely get blocked, and the filters may not operate at all during storms. Importantly, the water treatment would not achieve 'potable' quality, leading to continued health risks.
- 29 July 2019: Letters: Seeking balanced chlorine coverage . RAT Mave in Cook Islands News.
"…I see the paper has an agenda.…We have recently two headlines in large bold, one from health ministry, 'Death Illness or Chlorine', followed by an expert (not from here), 'No evidence chlorine is dangerous'.
The letters supporting alternatives or questioning government's predisposed decisions to chlorinate without public knowledge are nothing close to equal.
When the likes of New Zealand look to try and get a feel for the nation and their thoughts they will no longer see the heated and vigorous debates from the people, instead they will see the life and times of J J Milne."
- 29 July 2019: The Sift: Top 10. Opinion, Cook Islands News.
6. The increase in the number of Court cases in relation to government failures, incompetence and neglect is increasingly alarming. …Accolades to Manavaroa Mataiapo of Ngatangiia for taking an injunction against the government to stop it from introducing chlorinated chemicals into the Avana stream. …If the water is impure, tell the people.
7. Get people to understand, without the need for scare tactics or threats. Dr George Ngaei suggests tabling a new law to introduce chlorination. Appoint a Select Committee. Invite people to give evidence before the Select Committee. Those opposed to the scheme should be given the chance to do so at a hearing before the Select Committee.
- 29 July 2019: Chlorine debate. Ellena Tavioni in Cook Islands News.
"…thousands of scientists and years of research over the last 100 years have been carried out and the developed countries are still chlorinating their water today. Can it really be that bad?
We in the Cook Islands are already having a variety of cancer problems without chlorine in our water. One thing I do know for sure is that preservatives, colouring, high quantities of sugar in processed foods can trigger some cancers when over-consumed."
- 30 July 2019: Public servants in Petition row. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Public servants are caught in a war of words over whether they're allowed to speak their minds on chlorination.
After widespread concerns that Cook Islands' 2500-plus civil employees might face repercussions for signing a petition or marching in a protest against water disinfection, the Public Service Commissioner sent out a memorandum to all of them yesterday.
According to the Code of Conduct, "publicly criticising government policies in an official capacity" constitutes misconduct, but it does not prohibit signing petitions or criticizing government policies in a private capacity.
- 30 July 2019: Water vexes leaders. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
[Koutu Nui] will look into Te Mato Vai project and government's proposed water charges, once the multi-million dollar venture is commissioned.
Koutu Nui president Terea Mataiapo Paul Raui Allsworth said other issues included land, occupational rights, immigration, seabed mining and purse seining.
- 31 July 2019: Letters: Their water issues, not ours. Papa Williams in Cook Islands News.
"NZ's failings are theirs, not ours, and the issues of giardia, faecal matter and water-borne diseases is their history, not ours. There are better more cost-effective alternatives out there that would be more beneficial for our organic farmers, our environment, our marine ecosystem and our health. Yes, that's all we want and demand. The result? A court injunction by angry landowners, and an anti-chlorine petition fast gaining traction."
- 1 Aug 2019: Chlorination confirmed safe for organic farming. Te Mato Vai PMU.
The PMU can confidently state that chlorination is safe for use in agriculture, including organics. International standards confirm that water supplies chlorinated to the appropriate standards are approved for use in organic agriculture.
- 1 Aug 2019: No chemicals used on Te Mato Vai. Te Mato Vai PMU.
We have received an anonymous complaint asserting that the Te Mato Vai project is discharging chlorine into streams in Rarotonga. There are no grounds to this complaint. We can confirm that we are not using any chemicals to treat the water at Te Mato Vai work sites. Rarotonga's water supply and the pipe network it runs through are both still untreated.
- 1 Aug 2019: Pressure for water quotas as shortage threatens . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Water authority To Tatou Vai says pressure readings at the island's 10 water intakes show a steady decline, caused by low rainfall. Without any reservoirs, Rarotonga is extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather.
- 1 Aug 2019: Editorial: Different water streams woven together . Jonathan Milne, Cook Islands News.
"…it's very hard to get around the facts that decades of high E. coli indicator counts in the island's
10 12 intakes provide unequivocal evidence that the water is contaminated by animal waste, putting the island's people at risk of waterborne illnesses."
- 3 Aug 2019: Chlorination confirmed 'safe' for organic farming. Kate Woodruffe, To Tatou Vai/PMU, Cook Islands Government.
The PMU can confidently state that chlorination is safe for use in agriculture, including organics. International standards confirm that water supplies chlorinated to the appropriate standards are approved for use in organic agriculture.…rinsing of food must use 'potable' water.
- 3 Aug 2019: No chlorine in your water. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
"The new filtration and treatment works…will not be operating until after the new network and intake site treatment plants are fully completed," said deputy project manager Tangianau Taoro. "In the meantime, these new works are isolated from [and] not connected to the old system. In other words, the water you are receiving from the tap now is being delivered through the same old pipes and is still untreated."
- 3 Aug 2019: Price of drinkable water: $1 a day . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
…the government report says the incoming water tariff is intended to recover full operating costs of the agency looking after Rarotonga's water supply, To Tatou Vai. It is not intended to recover the capital cost, the report says.
Operating costs for To Tatou Vai were estimated at $1.41 million per year, including $855,000 for staff… the estimated charges do not yet take into account a final cost of operating and maintaining the completed network with the new filtration and treatment works in place.
"Any future tariffs will need to take into account actual operational costs, including the disinfection system chosen by government, and any free allocations."
- 7 Aug 2019: Causing more harm than good. Papa Williams in Cook Islands News.
"Organic farming is growing agricultural product without using any chemicals whatsoever, and consumers are consuming it big-time because it has no chemicals in the product…
Now the government wants to disinfect our water with the chemical chlorine - which will virtually kill off the new organic farming initiative - causing harm to plants, marine life and us."
- 10 Aug 2019: Letters: Let’s learn from a past water supply tragedy. Sam Napa Snr in Cook Islands News.
When the last section of our public water supply pipeline was commissioned in the early 1960s, many people became sick after drinking water from the new reticulated system, and this contributed to three deaths.
In 1964, the completed pipeline section was commissioned. Within a few days, many people in the above area became sickened after drinking water conveyed in the new pipeline. Many were admitted in to hospital and this disease outbreak contributed to the loss of three lives.
A subsequent inquiry identified the cause of the disease outbreak to be the failure to properly 'flush and disinfect' the new pipeline with chlorine prior to releasing water to consumers.
- 10 Aug 2019: 'Learn from the past', says Leader. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
The people of Rarotonga have been urged to learn from a previous big waterborne disease outbreak, when locals were found to have died from drinking un-chlorinated water.
Three people were killed and many more got seriously ill from drinking untreated water in Rarotonga's biggest waterborne disease outbreak, a local water expert says.
- 12 Aug 2019: Anolyte water a 'better solution'. Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
Pacific Resort Hotel Group chief executive Marcus Niszow told Cook Islands News last night that they had previously used chlorine "in the lack of a better solution", but were now very happy with their new Envirolyte disinfection technology.
- 12 Aug 2019: Letters: Anolyte for organic farms. Ian Calhaem in Cook Islands News.
"[Anolyte] has BioGro certification for use in Organic farming, and there are numerous examples of Anolyte treatment enhancing plant growth and seed germination. "
- 13 Aug 2019: Letters: Safety Data Sheet for Anolyte. Papa Williams in Cook Islands News.
"This information about Anolyte is self-explanatory; it is not hazardous and toxic to our babies, ourselves, our organic plants, or our marine life."
- 15 Aug 2019: Letters: Chlorine safe and effective if dose is right, says expert. Rushneed Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Kia Orana Foods Corporation used water from the local intakes for the production of soft drinks.
"At the intake the company had a collection tank and we use to chlorinate the water at 10ppm level. Whenever we needed the water, we collected it in flocculation tank at the factory and the chlorine level is maintained to 10ppm by adding stock solution of calcium hypochlorate through dosing pump along with other chemicals like Alum.
Then it is passed through a sand filter followed by passing through a carbon filter to dechlorinate the water. Before it is pumped to the processing hall, we check the water to make sure that it is chlorine free."
- 15 Aug 2019: Letters: 'Chlorination kept us healthy'. John Koruthu in Cook Islands News.
"I am a food technologist from India who had the opportunity to serve the Cook Islands from 1982 to 1987. During those years with the then Kia Orana Foods Corporation, we were manufacturing, exporting and supplying citrus and paw paw juice drinks and concentrates by using water from the intake, after chlorination, filtration and dechlorination. During that time I didn't experience any outbreak of any kind of waterborne diseases."
- 19 Aug 2019: Letters: Chemical-free water for the people . Anna Rassmussen, Te Vai Ora Maori, Cook Islands News.
Our group, Te Vai Ora Maori, has forced the government's hand into some sort of transparency on these topics. We have had uncovered, secret expressions of interest; chlorine already in the country before public consultations; misleading backtracking by government to cover the fact that chlorine is (was) a 'done deal'; and government backtracking on free water for the people.
- 20 Aug 2019: Ui Ariki proclaim chlorine support. Melina Etches, Cook Islands News.
The Ui Ariki, "generally speaking, are in support of chlorination," says Tupuna Rakanui, Clerk of the Are Ariki.
They had been alerted to the fact that chlorine was already in drinking liquids such as Vaiora and bottled water, said Rakanui, and that chlorinated water was acceptable and widely used overseas.
- 9 Sept 2019: Inside the locked gates of the new water intake (Turangi). Jonathan Milne, Cook Islands News.
The standard of openness from the Project Management Unit, GHD, Te Mato Vai and To Tatou Vai since then has been exemplary. They have discovered a very real understanding of the importance of actually talking to the community, and more important still, listening to them. The Cabinet sign-off for chlorination still hasn't happened - though to be blunt, it does still look rather like a fait accompli.…
"When the experts who know how to work this system disappear, when you go back to New Zealand or wherever, will we have the skills here on the island to run it?"
- 13 Sept 2019 Tap and go for water. Cook Islands News.
The new water authority is almost ready to switch on the new intakes and begin treating Rarotonga’s water — but for a court bid to bar chemicals from the water catchments.
Until that agreement is reached, though, To Tatou Vai has given an assurance it will not move specified chemicals up to the new treatment plants at the water intakes. These include calcium hypochlorite, used to chlorinate water supplies in order to kill bacteria and viruses.
The assurance also applies to polyaluminium chloride which is simply used at the start of the process to make bigger detritus and protozoa stick together and sink to the bottom of the 200 cubic metre concrete flocculation vats.
- 17 Sept 2019: Water treatment: Chemicals 'like medicine you don't need' . Anneka Brown and Losirene Lacanivalu , Cook Islands News.
Billboard-carrying protesters outside the High Court were given the news they wanted to hear yesterday, when a judge put an effective six-month hold on work to treat Rarotonga' drinking water. …Judge Keane has pushed out the deadline for negotiations until another court date on March 20 … He wished to remind government that the streams, their tributaries, catchment areas and the valleys were of significant importance to the culture, custom and being of every Cook Islander. There had been no discussion about how the chemical would impact on the land and humans.
- 2 Oct 2019: Public meeting to debate chlorination . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
The Koutu Nui is hosting a community meeting tonight for those who want to discuss the treatment of Rarotonga's water supply, 6.30pm in the Calvary Hall in Puaikura. First up are short presentations from landowners of water intake areas, followed by presentations about alternatives to chemical treatment.
See also: Koutu Nui Presentation: Vaka Puaikura - Non-Chemical Water Treatment (Facebook Album/Slides)
- 4 Oct 2019: Water boss leaves amid uncertainty . Rashneel Kumar, in Cook Islands News.
Rarotonga's new water company boss is stepping down after just one year in the beleaguered role. Brent Manning, who joined To Tatou Vai in Dec last year as its chief executive officer, has agreed to stay on until March while the board recruits a new head.
- 10 Oct 2019: A plea for some rational discussion. Brent Manning, CEO To Tatou Vai in Cook Islands News.
Quite apart from any debate about what, if anything, should be done to disinfect the water and, if so, what is the best option, the simple fact is the water is not safe to drink without boiling or treatment and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible.
- 23 Oct 2019: Fatal gastro outbreak. Sam Napa Snr in Cook Islands News.
I wrote (Letters, Aug 10) that many people in area from Betela meeting house, through Kavera, Aroa and Rutaki to Vaimaanga, became sick after drinking water conveyed in a new pipeline in 1964. The problem in 1964 was the failure to follow established standard procedure of sterilising the 100mm asbestos cement (AC) pipes by flushing and 'super-dosing' with chlorine before commissioning the final 4km section of AC ringmain reticulation.
- 26 Oct 2019: Local builders to fix shonky Chinese work. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Financial secretary Garth Henderson declined to comment this week, saying they would reveal the details of the remedial work contract in a press statement next week.
Landholdings Limited, McConnell Dowell, and government's Project Management Unit - which is overseeing Te Mato Vai project - all refused to comment. They referred queries to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
- 30 Oct 2019: Te Mato Vai: Cook Islands pushes ahead with millions in repairs. RNZ News.
The Cook Islands government has contracted a firm to do millions of dollars worth of repairs to its trademark water project.
- 31 Oct 2019: Pipelayers to be held to highest standards. Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
Government confirmed yesterday that it had awarded an $11.2 million contract to local company Land Holdings Ltd to redo substandard pipework.
The replacement of 17km of botched pipeline - a third of those laid by the China Civil Engineering Construction company - is expected to take eight months to complete.
- 8 Nov 2019: Koutu Nui says no to chemicals. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
A traditional leaders group has consulted with Rarotonga residents and says they oppose the use of chemicals in all stages of Rarotonga's water supply - that households should choose their own disinfection methods.
- 12 Nov 2019: Cooks water quality campaigners dismissed as extremists. RNZ News
The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister is characterising opponents to the use of chlorine in Rarotonga’s new water system as uninformed extremists.
RNZ: Have you had an environmental impact assessment done of the use of chlorine?
MB: I think that’s a question that should be posed to the environment service, I’m not aware of the full procedures that are being followed, but the government is committed to following proper procedure in terms of ensuring that clean drinking-water to the public on Rarotonga.
RNZ: The reports I get from environmental groups is that there hansn’t been any environmental impact assessment done.
MB: Yes, I’m not sure that's an accurate statement, but we’ll need to verify that.… I’m finding it difficult that the extreme views held by certain people should be used to determine the best possible drinking-water system for the people of the Cook Islands, the people of Rarotonga.
- 20 Nov 2019: Water is clear. Anna Rassmussen, Te Vai Ora Maori in Cook Islands News.
PACl causes silt and fine particles to clump together and form a jelly-like sludge; high in aluminium. Consultants have proposed trucking this sludge to Arorangi in sealed containers (to prevent leakage).…But there has been no geotechnical investigation of the dumpsite; no construction of long-term storage; and no consultation with the Arorangi community. Also, no truck.
- 20 Nov 2019: Water supply cuts anger families. Cook Islands News.
“Our water supply on the back road in Arorangi has been non-existent for a week now and I want the public to know what most of us are presently facing,” said one resident. “We are all supposed to have access to water, it’s a basic human right, I’m reminded constantly.
I have a hard enough time making ends meet to have to buy a delivery of water at $180 a pop…”
- 22 Nov 2019: Water cuts cause 'pain'. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
Rarotonga residents will continue to face water cuts until remedial work to the new water pipelines is complete. To Tatou Vai's chief executive officer Brent Manning said Te Mato Vai had commissioned repairs that may not be completed until Feb.
- 22 Nov 2019: Editorial: To Tatou Vai turns water into wine . Cook Islands News.
This month, publicly-owned company To Tatou Vai picked up the $8500 to $10,000 tab to send its chief executive Brent Manning on a week-long company directors' course on Waiheke.
- 22 Nov 2019: Prawn numbers decline — claim . Cook Islands News.
“Below the construction site, there was a marked decrease in prawn numbers. Above the discharge pipe — plenty of prawns,” he says, in a letter to Cook Islands News. “A local who fishes the area told me of a similar incident in Avana; and that he had been removing carcasses from the stream.” Kirkwood said government’s Project Management Unit had assured him no chemicals had been used, but had declined to supply workplace records to show whether something else might have contaminated the stream. “Nothing has been done to prevent damage to the other intake streams.”
- 22 Nov 2019: Fears of waterways contamination. Andy Kirkwood in Cook Islands News.
We stay in Turangi and often walk or cycle the intake valley road with our sons. Back in July, water discharged from the new storage tank into the stream resulted in a die-off of the koura vai (bracelet prawns)… The final part of the construction process is to sterilise the water storage tanks with high-dose chlorine solution…2.3 million litres of water [will] be discharged… Whoever makes the decision to proceed with chemical treatment will be accountable.
- 22 Nov 2019: Concerns in the Cooks over plans to chlorinate water supply. Dateline Pacific, RNZ News.
There are concerns in the Cook Islands at the government's failure to have an environmental impact assessment done on its plan to use chlorine to purify the water in its new supply system, Te Mato Vai.
- 25 Nov 2019: Letters: Stream concerns 'need investigation'. Andy Kirkwood in Cook Islands News.
One response from the Project Management Unit to being advised of the possible contamination of the Turangi stream was the public statement that "no disinfection chemicals have been used at the intakes". This year, government has issued a number of statements regarding chemical-use that lack credibility.
- 27 Nov 2019: New pipes to be disinfected using chlorine . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Anti-chlorine group demands government to provide details on how the chlorinated water would be removed and disposed.
The group is suggesting two methods; one using high pressure water and other way by using anolyte. "Anolyte does not have negative impact on the biodiversity while chlorine does," Flanagan said.
- 30 Nov 2019: Govt turns on filtered water to homes. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
Te Mato Vai plans to switch on the first of its new water intakes on Monday.
After last minute talks with land-owners went right down to the wire yesterday, the Government has instructed contractor McConnell Dowell to begin turning on the taps.
Most land-owners of the 10 water intakes have agreed to a six-month trial of poly-aluminium chloride, a coagulant that cleans the water of smaller particles and harmful protozoa, like those that cause Giardia. It is different from chlorine.
- 3 Dec 2019: Turn-on is a turn-off. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
Furious Matavera resident Renall Vogel joined anti-chemical group Te Vai Ora Maori yesterday to protest government turning on the taps of the new filtered water intakes.… The Matavera water plant and pipes will, however, be flushed with chlorine to disinfect the new infrastructure, before it is washed out and the new water supply is switched on.…The water engineers will also begin a six-month trial of poly-aluminium chloride…
- 6 Dec 2019: New court bid to stop chemicals in water. Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
Leaders and landowners from six parts of Rarotonga have filed a court application to stop the proposed trial of poly-aluminium chloride to clean the water supply, and the use of chlorine to "shock dose" new pipes.
- 7 Dec 2019: Water authorities agree to sign-off for chlorination . Anneka Brown, Cook Islands News.
Government will apply for an environmental impact assessment for the long term disinfection of Rarotonga's water supply, expected to be with chlorine.
Government lawyer Lloyd Miles said prior to the injunction, they had made assurances to landowners that an Environmental Impact Assessment would be undertaken, and if necessary, by an independent overseas consultant.…Miles said until they can gather data from controlled trials for the environmental impact assessment, they will not have data available as to the actual performance of the new infrastructure in Rarotonga to make a meaningful assessment.
- 10 Dec 2019: Protestors deliver water petition. Cook Islands News.
More than 1500 signatures opposing government's chlorinated water project were delivered to Parliament yesterday. If approved, the petition will be tabled by Democratic Party MP Selina Napa. "The fact we have had to resort to doing a petition is disappointing because the people have been saying the same thing for almost a decade now. Every time, the people of Rarotonga have said 'no chemicals' and 'free water for our people'…….
- 11 Dec 2019: Letters: Support for anti-chlorine group. Papa Williams in Cook Islands News
The group has had 100 per cent commitment and dedication in providing their whole-of-science and informed knowledge approach of their anti-chlorination argument by educating not only our people, but also a government … that choose to ignore the water-disinfection concerns of our people. This concerted support defines a watershed action of our country’s traditional and historical chemical-free waters that our people have always used for drinking, bathing and the watering of our food-crops and animals, not only here in Rarotonga, but also throughout all of our pristine, clean and green Te Ipukarea paradise.
- 11 Dec 2019: Letters: Water petition. Anna Rasmussen in Cook Islands News
Once endorsed the Honourable Selina Matenga (Democratic Party, MP for Titikaveka) has made a commitment to present the petition in Parliament. We sincerely thank Selina for taking this gesture to support us. Meitaki ma'ata to everyone who signed the petition, to everyone who protested, to everyone who continues to support for clean safe water free of chemicals and for free water, for our people here on Rarotonga.
- 13 Dec 2019: Anti-chemical lobby demands meeting . Andy Kirkwood, Te Vai Ora Maori in Cook Islands News.
…Te Mato Vai system is set to become Rarotonga's single largest producer of chemical industrial waste, at a time when other nations are clamouring for action on climate change and environmental protection. Before Te Mato Vai, there was no need for legal action - water was a community resource generously shared with the island by the intake families.
- 14 Dec 2019: Letters: Give safe water a chance. Exiting To Tatou Vai CEO Brent Manning in Cook Islands News.
…if we were in a developed nation, our water quality would be condemned. It is seriously contaminated, with bugs (bacteria, viruses and possibly protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium). If you want to understand how our current water supply works, go outside after rain, scoop up a glass of water from a puddle, pour it through some gravel, and drink. That is how it comes to you in the pipes now. The methods proposed by the opponents simply won't address that bacterial quality - the water needs to be clean when it gets to houses, otherwise UV won't work.
- 17 Dec 2019: VIDEO Takuvaine Intake Contamination. Te Vai Ora Maori.
Landowners visiting the Takuvaine Intake to observe Commissioning and PACl dosing instead found that water released into the stream had impacted upon biodiversity. Interviews with landowners and residents.
- 24 Dec 2019: Chemicals claim wrong: Henderson . Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Government has refuted claims that disinfected water containing chemicals has been released into the Takuvaine stream.
… financial secretary Garth Henderson assured the public, especially the landowners up at the Takuvaine intake, that "no calcium hypochlorite has been disposed into the stream".
- 24 Dec 2019: Another stoush in Cook Islands over chlorine in water. RNZ.
[Landowner Tere Carr] "What we suspect happened last Monday is that the chlorinated water from one of the tanks was released into the stream that runs past where the works are located. So there's real concern from the landowners on the Takuvaine Intake that this could have happened. As a result there was evidence of some of the animals in the stream having been affected and having died."
However, Secretary of Finance Garth Henderson, speaking for the government, said the complainants were wrong. There was no evidence to back such claims, he said, with no photos of the supposedly dead fish and eels the landowners say had died.
Latest chemical treatment News
- 4 Jan 2020: The water debate continues. Te Ipukarea Society in Cook Islands News
Flocculation is a process of settling out particulate matter, for example dirt, from the water. Given that PACl is a chemical that produces a potentially toxic sludge as a byproduct of the flocculation process, this trial needed to be properly assessed for environmental impacts before it was approved.
Another purpose of an EIA is to look at alternatives that may have a lesser negative impact. Therefore, from an environmental perspective, the logical thing to do to reduce dirt getting into the water is to first trial alternatives which provide a lower level of risk to our freshwater ecology.
- 15 Jan 2020: To Tatou Vai makes progress with Environmental Impact Assessment. Media Release.
The EIA will advise as to potential effects of the by-products - sludge and discharge water from the coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation as part of the designed water treatment process for the Te Mato Vai project.
- 16 Jan 2020: Engineers look into water chemicals. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Government water company To Tatou Vai has hired Tonkin and Taylor International Ltd to investigate plans to treat drinking water with polyaluminum chloride, a sedimentation and coagulation chemical. To Tatou Vai chief executive Brent Manning says this will look at any potential effects of the sludge and discharge water from the coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation treatment process.
- 22 Jan 2020: Ecologists study Te Mato Vai intake site streams
. Release, To Tatou Vai.
The survey will contribute to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) To Tatou Vai (TTV) has separately commissioned for the new water treatment system’s operation. This includes for PACl use, and to help inform the Cook Islands Government’s future decision on a preferred disinfection method.
The study will assess: habitat diversity, the extent of habitat, suitability for aquatic animal groups, sensitivity to change, existing disturbances and/or modifications, condition of the stream area, water flow characteristics, any fish passage barriers (man-made or natural), water quality.
- 24 Jan 2020: Something in the water. Moana Makapelu Lee, Cook Islands News.
Ecologists have this week begun an ecological survey of the streams flowing through Te Mato Vai's water intakes. The study includes a wide spanning survey of the aquatic habitat and wildlife populations as well as the stream conditions. Information gathered will contribute to the Environmental Impact Assessment report commissioned by Rarotonga's water supplier, To Tatou Vai… Leading the study are aquatic ecologists Dr Natalie Clark and Lauren Pratt, who are employed by GHD New Zealand, which is engaged by the Cook Islands Government to deliver and manage Rarotonga's new water facilities.
- 31 Jan 2020: Cook Islands water system EIA 'too narrow' Te Ipukarea Society / Radio New Zealand News.
"After talking to the consultants [Tonkin and Taylor] this EIA is only looking at the use of polyaluminium chloride…it's not looking at chlorination and they may as well do the whole thing all at once…The EIA is not really looking at alternatives, it's merely looking at the impacts of the PACl and how these may be reduced or mitigated on the assumption that PACl will be used."
- 3 Feb 2020: Cooks water system chief calls Rarotonga water 'unsafe' RNZ News.
Brent Manning, who is the chief executive of the company managing the system, To Tatou Vai, said the decision was not for his company to make but he said some form of disinfection was absolutely vital. "There are many, many bacteria in this water supply here. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that if this was in any other developed nation the water supply here would be condemned, because it is, based on the testing and results we have seen todate, it's completely unsafe,… he said.
- 9 Feb 2020: What happens when we commission Te Mato Vai? Release, Te Mato Vai PMU.
How will you monitor the impact of PACl use on the streams?
During the trials, we'll do a mix of tests within the water treatment plant and in the streams. This includes testing for dissolved aluminium in water. These tests will be at regular intervals, and each time we need to adjust the amount of PACL we're using.
Have PACl trials started?
As at 5 Feb 2020, PACl trials have not yet started. We will give landowners at least 48 hours notice before beginning the trials.
Why are you trialling PACl at all 10 intakes?
1. Trialling PACl at all sites will enable us to capture information specific to each intake site;
2. Treatment, including PACl use, needs to be applied at a whole of network level to achieve its benefits - improved public water supply quality; and
3. We are able to manage and monitor the trials to mitigate any potential environmental impact.
- 18 Feb 2020: Why only collecting stream water when the water is running 'clear' is not an option Release, Te Mato Vai PMU.
The option to bypass the intake during wet weather events is impractical and detrimental.
1. PACl dosing is still required for treating 'clear' water flows.
2. Collecting water when the streams are in high flow (generally during heavy rain) will help prevent public water supply shortages.
3. An effective bypass system would most likely need a permanent power supply at each intake site.
- 19 Feb 2020: Chemical water trial is 'lawful'. Losirene Lacanivalu, Cook Islands News.
[To Tatou Vai CEO] Manning said the initial work was lawful. "This has been agreed with landowners through a consultative process, noting however that there is some opposition to the use of water treatment chemicals, but that doesn't necessarily make it unlawful.
The Tonkin & Taylor assessment, he said, was of the by-products of the coagulation process. Standard controls would be put in place for these, as was done worldwide. "Those by-products will take time to accumulate and therefore won't be required to be removed straight away."
He said data would be gained from the coagulation trial, to help inform the environmental impact assessment and related controls.
- 22 Feb 2020: Cash-strapped Govt asks for more money. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
MPs will vote on whether to dip into next year's Budget to address about $5m shortfall for pipeline works.
- 22 Feb 2020: New boss welcomes 'superior structures'. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Apart from the civil engineering degree he gained at his home in the UK, Longman also has a management degree. Mason said the incoming water authority boss spent time in Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea, and possessed technical and practical knowledge in the field. Longman's previous jobs included negotiating with indigenous landowners on projects.
- 29 Feb 2020: Water boss: It's lonely at the top. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
…successor Greg Longman was named last week. … Longman took up the role after spending about six years working in the waste water sanitation and water disinfection areas in Kiribati and Vanuatu.
Manning: "My expectation would be everyone will be drinking water from a system which is working well, consistently safe to drink, its reliable, good quality decent pressure and not having regular interruptions and loss of pressure like they experience now and won't be getting mud from taps."
- 29 Feb 2020: To Tatou Vai staff won't drink untreated water. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Manning said people had different views on disinfection but he hoped "ultimately there is some weight given to people who actually know about these things, the background and operation of the system".
"In my case I have seen it go wrong in places too in New Zealand, so I know what works and what doesn't work or what's not likely going to work."
- 3 Mar 2020: How to selfie-improve . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
"We have established a relationship and agreement with local Tereora College whereby we have set up an internship programme where students from this school can work here during their holidays," Manning said.
The other initiative … is a partnership between the company and Watercare in New Zealand. Through this partnership, To Tatou Vai staff can go and train in Auckland. The local water company can also bring people from Watercare to advise and assist them with certain projects.
- 5 Mar 2020: Legal bid begins to recoup water pipeline damages from Chinese. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Government is set to head into arbitration process with the Chinese contractor in a bid to recoup $17 million repair cost on the Rarotonga water supply system.
Mark Brown said Heather's statement "stinks of politically motivated fabrications. It is obvious to me that the Demo Party tactic is multi-pronged attack to smear and demean the good name of the Deputy Prime Minister," he said. "I know there is more mudslinging to endure. They should be reminded that the mud they fling at me also covers their hands that they eat with."
- 12 Mar 2020: Waste no longer out of sight and out of mind. George Pitt, Cook Islands Herald (Facebook).
"… no action has been taken since this tip opened to handle or treat the raw sewerage dumped in the ponds below the waste tip. Heavy rain causes these ponds to overflow and the raw sewerage to flow out into a nearby stream and end up in the lagoon."
- 18 Apr 2020: Rubbish! Cook Islands waste worsens in Covid-19 slowdown. Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
It's an unseen crisis and time is running out, if people don't start consciously thinking about waste management it's going to create huge challenges.
- 21 April 2020: How does polyaluminium chloride (PACl) work. Te Mato Vai PMU.
We need to use PACl in Rarotonga because stream water contains high levels of contaminants - everything from bird poo to leaves and soil. This is true for water taken from streams, rivers or lakes around the world, not just in Rarotonga. Even stream water that looks clear still contains harmful protozoa and bacteria too small for people to see.
- 2 May 2020: Andy Kirkwood: Sludge! Letters in Cook Islands News.
A March 2020 expert review estimates the scale of the issue. The use of polyaluminum chloride (PACl) - a chemical that helps to remove dirt during rain - will generate 4,000 cubic metres of chemical sludge each year.
- 4 May 2020: PACl sludge is not 'toxic waste'. Te Mato Vai PMU
We have received messages from members of the public concerned about the sludge that the new Te Mato Vai water treatment system will produce, and how it might be safely disposed of. Here we explain what PACl sludge is, why it's incorrect to label it 'toxic waste' and how we might manage this waste product in future.
- 15 May 2020 VIDEO: Ngatoe Intake - Take a Look. To Tatou Vai.
- 23 May 2020: Andy Kirkwood: Water treatment: Don’t be hasty. Letters in Cook Islands News.
The Government intends to proceed with a separate six-month PACl trial, despite not having a permit to do so. The Government claims the trial is necessary to inform the environmental impact assessment. This claim is not supported by the GHD technical documentation, the Court-expert assessment, or the opinion of the consultancy firm preparing the To Tatou Vai environmental impact assessment submission. The Government’s claim requiring a trial is necessary, is a fiction.
- 18 Jun 2020: Chlorine petition rejected Rushneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
The petition opposing chlorine in Rarotonga’s drinking water was dismissed in Parliament yesterday. The petition, filed by the anti-chlorine group Te Vai Ora Maori, also opposed water rates for domestic users.
- 24 Jun 2020: Uncertainty over water petition Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
A community group lobbying for clean and safe water without using chemicals is waiting to find out where the petition they presented to Parliament now stands. But a number of MPs have hit back and said due process was followed and Standing Order 81 clearly states that if it is moved for a petition not to be read by a majority vote in the House, there essentially is no petition.
- 25 Jun 2020: Turning on the taps Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
Authorities acknowledge they need to be as transparent as the water they plan to pipe into people’s homes in Rarotonga.…
[Takuvaine] Storm damage to the main water storage pond meant it had to be reconstructed, and that delayed the project.
- 25 Jun 2020: Water shortage: Every drop counts Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
Due to record increased water usage on Rarotonga, To Tatou Vai has put out a message urging residents to conserve water. There are a number of reasons for increased water usage. More people are planting and because Code Yellow restrictions asked residents to stay at home, water usage spiked.
- 26 June 2020 Rarotonga residents urged to save water now. Cook Islands News.
Cook Islands Meteorological Service has confirmed that apart from heavy rain early in March, rainfall since has been about 35 per cent and indications for the next two months suggest about 50 per cent of normal rainfall is expected.
- 27 Jun 2020: Justine Flanagan: Parliament is like our utu tree Cook Islands News.
Our Parliament is much like this utu tree; under its canopy we determine our direction as a nation. However, the treatment of the last three public petitions reveals a pattern: Government uses Parliament to frustrate the process, and to silence the people.
- 4 July 2020: Two strikes but not out for petition. Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
Parliament’s Speaker Niki Rattle has ruled the Anti-Chemical Treatment of the Water Supply of Rarotonga petition out of order as Parliament does not have power to issue an injunction against treating the water with chemicals.
The prayer does not ask Parliament to “issue an injunction”, Flanagan said. Parliament is not the Court. “For a person to obtain an injunction order they must have a legal right that has been violated, petitioners have no legal right for the Court to uphold. The prayer is not a private application seeking a Court order. A prayer is a public request presented to Parliament for consideration by a select committee.”
- 4 July 2020: Pipe gushes despite pleas. Melina Etches, Cook Islands News.
A large high-pressure water pipe has burst at the Turangi intake road and is being held together by tyre tubes to limit the spill. With the shortage of water issue experienced on the island, a concerned neighbour was upset at the poor effort to fix the problem. “It’s been like this for at least two months, during this time of drought…”
- 7 July 2020: John M Scott: Just when will NZ step in? Cook Islands News.
Quite aside from the non sequitur that the petitioners’ concerns are currently being considered by the Cook Islands judiciary, when they are not, the far more worrying part of its response were the words:
“The Cook Islands is self-governing and it would not be appropriate for New Zealand to comment on the deliberations of the Cook Islands Parliament.”
…how dire, deplorable or despicable does a breach have to be before New Zealand is compelled to step in?
- 8 July 2020: Eric Short: Water rights impinge on land rights Cook Islands News.
The Bill will give To Tatou Vai ownership of our valleys, our resources, our water. But this is not the government’s land and this is not the government’s water.
If the To Tatou Vai Bill is passed, where do we stand?
- 10 July 2020: Debate about who should lead fresh water consultation. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Lobby group Te Vai Ora Maori’s Justine Flanagan said: “What is most concerning is the appointment of Minister Brown as chair especially given his failure to execute his duties as chair of the Te Mato Vai petition”.
- 10 July 2020: Mark Brown: Criticism of water committee. Cook Islands News.
“[Te Vai Ora Maori] are now spreading misinformation in their latest mass email, eg ‘Landowner rights: rights of title have been almost entirely been eroded’. I view these actions as obstructive rather than constructive.…If you don’t want water from the To Tatou Vai system, then you are free to install your own water for your own use.
- 16 July 2020: New select committee option for Cooks’ water opponents. RNZ.
The Speaker of the Cook Islands parliament, Nikki Rattle, says those with concerns about the new Rarotonga/Aitutaki water systems can voice these in new select committee consultations.
- 20 July 2020: Complaint filed against Govt . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said the Government haven’t commenced dosing the public water supply with the coagulant poly aluminium chloride. Brown said they will follow due process by notifying the landowners before any dosing is to proceed. “At this point in time, this is a matter before the court.”
TVOM: “We’ve repeatedly asked our government for information - what are the risks, are all the intakes affected, and have all the faults now been fixed? A permit is required, and the people have a right to be consulted.”
- 22 July 2020: Water authority won’t make a profit, just cover costs. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
According to the To Tatou Vai [Authority] Bill 2020, the authority will be a self-funding not-for-profit statutory body governed by a board and a chief executive officer. However the Bill says it may set and charge tariffs to customers for the supply of water. It may also set and impose charges for connection of a water supply.
- 22 July 2020: Andy Kirkwood: Te Vai Ora Maori- says no permit is an offence. Cook Islands News.
Te Vai Ora Maori now calls for the Minister release the expert finding on the settlement tank overflow fault, and details of the “storm damage” that was sustained by the main water storage pond in June.
Both the settlement tank and storage pond are part of the PACl dosing system. Similar faults may affect all 10 of the Te Mato Vai waterworks, and risk impacts on the health and safety of residents living downstream.
- 22 July 2020: Eric Short: ‘Water powers are legalised thievery’ . Cook Islands News.
”Land owners agreed no compensation would be charged as long as Government did not charge the Iti Tangata for water. We will now see To Tatou Vai charge every home connected to the system. To Tatou Vai will have to charge every household a fee each month to maintain the system and pay running costs – about $4 million a year. Based on say 5000 water connections, that will be approximately $80 a month per household, just to break even.”
- 25 July 2020: ‘Extremist’ landowners behind today’s water protest – Govt . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
Landowner Tere Carr said the intake landowners and people of Rarotonga should be very concerned about the Bill “which is robbing landowners of their right and tika’anga to our water”. Carr claims the government intends to take these rights through legislation “so that they don’t have to deal with landowners anymore. A tribe without water rights are nothing … the landowners agreed for free water for our people in lieu of compensation. This Bill steals those rights and makes government the owner of our source of life.”
- 28 July 2020: More marches planned over land threat in Cooks water bill. RNZ.
Organiser Tere Carr said the weekend march through Avarua was to highlight concerns at how the bill would impact landowners.
“It was a protest by the landowners to some of the clauses in this new bill which will ultimately end in charging Rarotonga residents for water, it will restrict the usage rights in the areas where our intakes are, and so landowners are very concerned that it is an informal way of taking away their land rights,” she said.
- 30 July 2020: Kata: Te Mato Vai Communication / Clear as mud. Cook Islands News.
- 8 Aug 2020: Floods knock out key water mains. Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
Severe damage to aged water mains up the Avana and Turangi valleys is cited as evidence of the urgent need to switch over to the new network.
- 15 Aug 2020: Downpours forces water authority to turn on taps of new waterworks . Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
Fears that water mains from two of Rarotonga’s critical intakes will fail completely if put under pressure from more heavy rain have forced To Tatou Vai to act fast and start work to begin using new pipes.…Longman said this piece of work may take up to five working days to complete, engineers were on the job yesterday. In the interim, water is being re-routed from other intakes.
- 15 Aug 2020: Landfill worker: ‘People can make my job easier by simply separating their waste’. Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
…they receive about 30 one-cubic-metre containers full of glass per week. About two of the containers crush down to fill one cubic metre bag of fine glass sand. Infrastructure is selling them for $80 per bag.
- 20 Aug 2020: Water treatment: ‘No one is above the law’ . Rashneel Kumar, Cook Islands News.
…a body corporate is liable for a fine of $100,000, Flanagan said. There is also provision for a further fine of $10,000 for each day the offence continues, she added.
“There are 10 intakes – that’s 10 offences. We are seeking expert advice on whether the respondent should be the Cook Islands government, GHD, McConnell Dowell – or all three. No one is above the law, not even government. We have prepared a legal brief; and invite anyone interested to get in touch.”
- 20 Aug 2020: Cook Islanders call for cuts to proposed water fees. RNZ.
TVOM: ̶What’s come forward is that there’s still significant concern about chemicals, significant concern about [how] households will afford monthly bills. It may not seem much from New Zealand but we have only just had our minimum wage increase to $NZ8 a hour, so for a lot of families the monthly charge proposed for the water charges, it’s a significant burden for them.”
- 20 Aug 2020: Cook Islands DPM says free water for Rarotonga residents, unless excessive use. RNZ.
- 21 Aug 2020 Old pipes burst under new pressure. Cook Islands News.
During recent storms, the old asbestos cement pipes that feed water from the Avana and Turangi intakes were significantly damaged. So workers switched on the new water mains at both intakes. This week, water has been successfully flowing down the new pipes from the intakes to the ring main system.
- 22 Aug 2020: Govt is to amend water bill. Cook Islands News.
“What we will do is make sure the allocation we are looking at for water will be sufficient for households to use without being charged for their water — that’s the aim here,” Brown told RNZ. “But again, until we have the system up and running and the meters in place, and I would expect two to three years before we have the data available to make an informed decision on what charges will be.”
…MPs had also agreed that Aitutaki, which was to have a similar reticulation scheme, would not be included within the current legislation. Brown said it was felt Aitutaki needed to be covered by separate legislation.
- 24 Aug 2020: Cooks Deputy PM promises changes to water system set up.. RNZ.
“ Compulsory will be removed. Aitutaki should be under own statutes and not under current To Tatou Vai Bill.
We don’t know until we get the system up and running. First thing we need to do is have the metering in place, this will allow us to have more information and data on what households use; what businesses use; what the agriculture sector uses on this island. What we would do is make sure that the allocation that we’re looking at for water is sufficient for households to use without being charged for their water…Until we have the system up-and-running and the meters in place, I would expect at least 2-3 years before we have the data available to make an informed decision on what charges will be.
There has been significant consultation with landowners, specfically consent to allow these structures to be built on their land.
There’s a misapprehension about the tariffs many people don’t realise they’re paying for their water already, directly or indirectly. They’re having to boil their water because it’s not safe to drink, or they’re having to travel to a water station…or they’re having to buy bottled water. ”
- 24 Aug 2020: Activists claim Cook Islands Govt set to illegally use chemicals in water. RNZ.
The Cook Islands News reported the group alleged last month, in a complaint to the National Environment Service, that the government was dosing the water supply with a chemical coagulant without a proper permit.
The group said its complaint is not about the science of water treatment, but about the “regulatory process”.
Earlier this month To Tatou Vai, the authority being set up to run the scheme, wrote to landowners saying it was about to start a six month trial using the coagulant.
- 27 Aug 2020: Turning beer into water. Emmanuel Samoglou, Cook Islands News.
Without alienating visitors, Kirkwood said such taxes could potentially be used to pay for critical infrastructure and fund the operating budgets of government agencies such as To Tatou Vai.
“People offer to do things like buy beer and alcohol, and they won’t feel exploited like they do by increasing room rates or charging a departure tax when they leave the country,” he said.
- 5 Sept 2020: Water dosing ‘trials’ starts . Katrina Tanirau, Cook Islands News.
The government says poly aluminium chloride trials for the next six months will allow for making better-informed decisions about the future of Rarotonga’s public water supply, but opponents say proceeding with the trial is irresponsible.
- 5 Sept 2020: Te Mato Vai water system one step closer to delivering safe and reliable drinking water. Cook Islands government, Cook Islands News.
“As I have already confirmed, permits are in place for the construction and commissioning of the Te Mato Vai Stage Two project. The Cook Islands Government has committed to managing the PACl trials in a way that protects the health of our community and environment and provided all reassurances necessary that the use of chemicals during the commission will not cause significant environmental harm or breach any requirements of the Environment Act 2003.”
-Nga Puna, Director National Environment Service
- 8 Sept 2020: Water issue. Justine Flanagan in Cook Islands News.
Statements attributed to the director of NES (National Environment Service) are deliberately evasive. He confirms that Te Mato Vai have a permit for “construction and commissioning”. He does not state that the permit covers the use of PACl.
- 9 Sept 2020: Tribe raises concerns over water bill. Melina Etches, Cook Islands News.
There are many aspects of the bill that Ngati Kainuku support including free water allocation to residences, provision of clean water, not for profit operation, water catchment committees, co-management of water and no transfer of Authority reserves.
- 10 Sept 2020 Justine Flanagan: Free water allocation ‘misunderstood’. Cook Islands News.
The submission to Parliament by Ngati Kainuku illustrates how ‘free allocation’ is widely misunderstood. ‘Free allocation’ does not mean free water for residents. Under the bill, To Tatou Vai must be financially independent. The authority will need to cover its own staff and operational costs — $2.8 million annually. If every household were to keep within their free allocation each month, then TTV would not collect any money.
- 17 Sept 2020: Bills top agenda in Parliament. Cook Islands News.
Acting Clerk of Parliament Jeannine Daniel has confirmed Parliament will sit on Wednesday next week [23 Sept].…Parliament will receive reports from four select committees on the review of bills namely: Crimes Bill, Immigration Bill, Agriculture Bill and the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill.
- 17 Sept 2020 Opposition select committee MPs to hold their own public meetings. Cook Islands News.
In a statement, Democratic Party said their members on the select committees dealing with the four bills — To Tatou Vai, Agriculture, Crimes and Immigration — will be ‘updating the public” at a meeting arranged by MP for Ruaau William ‘Smiley” Heather and Akaoa MP Nooroa Baker.
- 19 Sept 2020 Andy Kirkwood: Select committee meetings. Cook Islands News.
There is widespread confusion as a result of access for the operation of the Te Mato Vai Project being legislated in two separate acts. The Infrastructure Act 2019 covers the access roads and land required for the water treatment facilities. The To Tatou Vai Authority Bill 2020 is about the area where rainfall and groundwater originate; to feed the streams.
- 22 Sept 2020: Eric Short : Pristine water. Cook Islands News.
…if you are receiving cloudy, muddy looking water out of your tap, it’s definitely not from my intake. If you don’t believe me, I’ll take you there personally and show you how clean my valley’s water is. In answer to the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments, my water is clean and safe to drink. No one has ever been sick or died because of drinking or bathing in it. We definitely don’t need your chemicals in my intake.
- 28 Sept 2020 Traditional leaders call for new water bill. Cook Islands News.
A traditional leaders’ group is calling on Parliament to ‘postpone’ the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill until it is ‘thoroughly acceptable to the landowners. Further, the issue of toxic waste by-products from the use of chemicals has not been resolved in that advice from chemical engineers (as opposed to civil engineers) has not been sought. We believe that an Environmental Impact Assessment should be carried out in order to protect human health and the fragile ecosystems upon which we depend.
- 29 Sept 2020: A step closer to ‘cleaner drinking water’. Cook Islands News.
The first dosing of poly aluminium chloride (PACI) to the settling tank took place at the Ngatoe water intake yesterday.
Following “extensive consultation”, PACI dosing was witnessed by the National Environmental Service, landowners and Aronga Mana prior to the milestone being marked by government officials and other dignitaries.
- 29 Sept 2020: Andy Kirkwood: The many hats of GHD. Cook Islands News.
In effect, a New Zealand company is both proposing; and then self-approving the use of a chemical that industry guidelines do not recommend. Without environmental monitoring, damage to Rarotonga’s stream ecosystems will go undetected. The reality of chemical-use is that it generates chemical waste. The reality of water technicians, is that they’re not freshwater ecologists.
- 9 Oct 2020 John M Scott: Dismissing spirited people’s effort. Cook Islands News.
I liken this stupid outburst from the new Prime Minister as coming into the same category of his threat to the banks that they do things his way or he would legislate to make them. Unquestioned obedience and compliance are becoming a disturbing hallmark of the CIP brand of administration.
- 10 Oct 2020 Tama Tuavera: Water petition and Standing Orders. Cook Islands News.
It is sad that PM Brown is also in denial over the actions of the Parliament Speaker. She made wrong decisions, and really should accept her mistakes and do an action replay of the Anti-Chemical Treatment Te Vai Ora Maori petition that Justine and Andy organised — let the petition go to select committee as it should have in the first place
- 10 Oct 2020 John M Scott: Let’s be clear about something. Cook Islands News.
The Speaker should resign if she will not — seek proper advice; be the impartial person she is supposed to be; uphold the Standing Orders and stop obliging the Government all the time.
- 14 Oct 2020 Paul Raui Allsworth: Good governance about engaging with community. Cook Islands News.
Understandably, we all want clean fresh water and new pipes for its distribution. People are saying, through another public petition, that we do not support the additional burden of water charges.
The landowners and the public are pushing for NO water charges for domestic users.
The use of chlorine chemicals in our water supply, is another major concern. The House of Ariki should understand that these issues are major government policy directives.
19 Oct 2020 To Tatou Vai and Te Marae Ora team up. Cook Islands News.
For the last two months, Te Marae Ora health ministry and To Tatou Vai have been working together to conduct joint water quality tests around the island.
- 24 Oct 2020: Chemical trials could be unlawful: Lobby group. Cook Islands News.
Use of polyaluminium chloride (PACl) is ‘not a trial but a test’ according to Te Vai Ora Maori, but Prime Minister Mark Brown says it’s simply another attempt by the water lobby group to stall progress.
- 5 Nov 2020 Too much rain? Met service says its ‘normal’. Cook Islands News.
The rainy spell this week is ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ for the wet season which started this month and will run until April 2021, says the Cook Islands Meteorological Service. Service director Arona Ngari says the start of the cyclone season this month brings in around 1.3 metres or two-thirds of the projected annual rainfall of about two-metres.
- 5 Nov 2020 Fixing drainage in flood prone Muri. Cook Islands News.
Charlie-Puna said from Sept 19 to October 30, the clearing of streams and widening work was completed, an approximate total of 1km was cleared along both the Aremango and Areiti streams in Muri by contractors Landholdings Ltd who were awarded the Muri Drainage Improvement Project.…government have prioritised these major infrastructure upgrades over the past financial years to address ongoing flooding issues around the island.
- 7 Nov 2020: Andy Kirkwood: Water project points to need for enforcement of environment laws. Cook Islands News.
When executive government flaunts existing regulations; NES and the Ombudsman are uanble to execute their duties; and public petitions are routinely derailed, we don’t need new laws. We need law enforcement.
- 11 Nov 2020 Everything you need to know about PACl. Te Mato Vai PMU.
We will be following industry practice and guidelines to ensure PACl is used safely and effectively.
Is sludge safe? Well documented water treatment process science tells us that the PACl sludge is in many respects like a soil, and can be reused or disposed of in a number of ways without damaging the environment. However, like any waste product, PACl sludge must be managed responsibly.
How much sludge will the Te Mato Vai system produce? We can’t accurately predict how much sludge the Te Mato Vai system will produce because it will depend on weather, its effect on stream flows, and the unique conditions of each intake site. For example, heavy rainfall that disturbs the soil and carries more sediment into the stream will result in more PACl needed to remove the contaminants in the water and more sludge produced. This is one of the reasons for the PACl trials — the trials will help us understand how much PACl to use at each site, how much sludge will be produced and the sludge consistency.
- 14 Nov 2020 Quiet quest to recoup millions from Chinese firm continues. Cook Islands News.
For nearly two years, Government has been trying to recoup $13 million from a Chinese firm, which is alleged to have carried out shoddy work on the nation’s largest-ever infrastructure project. Its fight continues with no sign of a resolution in sight.
19 Nov 2020 Algae growth in Rarotonga's streams is baffling officials. Cook Islands News.
Local officials are short on answers as to what is causing the excessive growth of algae in a number of streams around Rarotonga.
- 20 Nov 2020 Te Mato Vai — Dealing with ‘shoddy’ pipework. Cook Islands News.
A water system, especially in a climate where winter frost protection isn’t a problem, is a simple thing. With materials meeting the standards of Canada, the USA, etc., a domestic water distribution system should require little to no significant maintenance for 50 years or more. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe lasts for longer than we’ve been able to establish but the photos I googled of this (Te Mato Vai) project seemed to show some sort of polyethylene pipe. Cheaper, but not what would typically be used in western countries.
- 21 Nov 2020 Treating drinking water using ozone. Cook Islands News.
With all the other crap (insect spray, weed killer, preservatives, food additives, etc) that we’re putting into our bodies do we want to add chlorine?
- 26 Nov 2020 LETTER: What are the effects of water treatment on Rarotonga’s streams? / Nutrient — more or less?
Cook Islands News.
Freshwater streams are not used as drains for water treatment residuals in New Zealand - or in Australia. There is no scientific research on the long-term effects of PACl waste on stream life.
- 26 Nov 2020 LETTER: Landowner concerns with water treatment..
Cook Islands News.
There are no aluminium tests, the filter is off, and people are drinking chemical water. How is this a trial?
- 27 Nov 2020 MPs attend intake tour. Cook Islands News.
Nine out of 10 intakes are undergoing trials where a chemical called polyaluminium chloride, or PACl, is added to the settlement chambers to remove small dirt particles and other contaminants found in water, such as bird droppings. Napa said the answers provided by officials during the tour didn’t adequately explain how PACl sludge and the by-product from sand filtration will be disposed in an environmentally responsible manner. “This is a major inland development that will affect our water supply, our streams that flow out to sea. Why didn’t this government first obtain an EIA? Everyone seems to be avoiding that question and ducking for cover.”
28 Nov 2020 Time to turn on the tap, but it’s not that simple. Cook Islands News.
Rarotonga’s geography, ecology, and weather are posing unique challenges. “It’s very different here. Water gets dirty very fast, but it cleans up fast.” Developing water treatment systems is never an easy process, says Free, and getting to this stage has been a lengthy process. “They always are, but this one, probably a little longer than most. There’re 10 plants. I’ve never worked on 10 plants at the same time.”
8 Dec 2020 Government’s ecological report challenged. Cook Islands News.
A desktop review relies on published reports. The consultants did not conduct any fieldwork on the sensitivity of Rarotonga’s freshwater ecosystems to pollution.
9 / 21 Dec 2020 Te Mato Vai Aquatic Ecology Report Released. GHD.
Earlier this year a field study on the 10 streams where water intakes have been upgraded was conducted. … Alongside the field study a report that described the existing aquatic ecological values of the 10 intake and discharge sites was produced. As part of this study, we assessed the potential impacts of the water treatment plant operations… [*]
9 Dec 2020. LETTER: The writing is on the wall. Cook Islands News.
The Cook Islands Economic Strategy 2030 estimates that households in the lowest quintile are only able to save $1000 a year after expenses. A water tariff of $80 per month guts that down to $40. Add to that the increase in the cost of food when growers are levied for water usage. How much for a watermelon when growers have to pay for water?… Given the current economic climate, this is not a time to burden, it is a time to rebuild. It is prudent that To Tatou Vai become a government agency, a rebranded ICI Water Division.
22 Dec 2020 PACl trial update. GHD.
Trial results so far have been positive, with the water treatment plant performing as expected and delivering a significant increase in water quality overall.
- 23 Dec 2020 Water intakes at critical level as dry spell continues. Cook Islands News.
The highest rainfall for this month has been 6.3 millimetres, recorded on Dec 6. As of yesterday, the island recorded only 44mm of rain so far in Dec. Ngari said the average rainfall for the month was 200mm.
- 11 Jan 2021 OPINION: It takes courage to disagree with the government.
All the children were under the age of 10. Other young mums walked with demonstrators, leading their young ones by the hand. The young mums had joined a public demonstration in our main township against the adding of chemicals to the Rarotonga water supply; they also objected to the To Tatou Vai Bill.
- 30 Jan 2021 Water situation bordering critical. Cook Islands News.
To ensure residents have access to drinking water, strategically placed water stations that have been maintained by TTV over the past year or so and which do not currently have water tanks, will soon be getting them.
- 2 Feb 2021 More rain needed to replenish local intakes. Cook Islands News.
To Tatou Vai earlier stated although summer is traditionally a rainy season and there was some rain in the first week of Dec 2020, there has been no sustained heavy rain since the flooding in Sept 2020.
To remedy low pressure, To Tatou Vai redirected the water in some mains to push water into the areas which experienced shortages.
- 5 Feb 2021 Boil Water Notice. Te Marae Ora.
As has been widely communicated, Rarotonga has for many months been experiencing below average rain fall.
In order to get the maximum amount of water coming through the system and to consumers To Tatou Vai is bypassing the water cleaning regime. This has the consequence of water possibly being a darker colour than consumers have been used to in recent months, and certainly since the PACL trials started at each of the 10 intakes late last year.
- 19 Feb 2021 Rain brings relief. Cook Islands News.
The Cook Islands Meteorological Service reported 38 millimetres of rainfall fell in Nikao in the early hours of the morning, with 30mm recorded in Titikaveka. The Southern Group island of Mauke received 38mm.
- 29 Mar 2021 Water project grievance filed
Government proceeded with infrastructure construction of Rarotonga’s water project before considering impacts, claims a local group.
- 8 April 2021 Video: PACl Trial Documentary — A Closer Look at the Water Treatment System. Te Mato Vai PMU.
- 14 April 2021 LETTER: Government defends water treatment process. Te Mato Vai PMU, Cook Islands News.
The purpose of PACl is to remove dirt and harmful viruses and bacteria from the water. Diversion will help collect clearer water, however it doesn’t address the need to remove all viruses and bacteria, such as E. coli (and its many strains, of which can cause severe symptoms and even life-threatening complications), from the water.
- 26 April 2021 Rarotonga water treatment waste ‘no gift to growers’. Cook Islands News.
NKA: “…if [an organic] grower is found to be using sludge, their organic certification will be revoked.”
GHD: “Aluminium is not toxic to plants when the soil pH is near neutral or mildly acidic (the pH values are above pH 6). Most Rarotonga soils are above pH 6, and the silts and clays have very high natural buffering capacity meaning that their pH doesn’t change much when something more acidic is added. In fact, the PACl sludge we have tested is not acidic so it won’t make the soil more acidic.”
Ministry of Agriculture: “the sludge will also contain aluminium (Al) and chloride (Cl) and possibly other elements such as heavy metals which can negatively impact plants and crops.…elevated levels of Al and Cl can have adverse effects on the growth of certain tree species and many vegetable crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, and melons.”
- 26 April 2021 The potential for PACl sludge use. Te Mato Vai PMU.
Initially PACl sludge was being considered for fill or capping material. At their request, and with the support of the Government, the PMU conducted preliminary tests to understand the composition of the PACl sludge and whether it would be suitable for reuse on the land.
- 13 May 2021 Injunction sought to stop dumping of water treatment sludge. Cook Islands News.
A group of landowners is seeking an injunction to stop Rarotonga’s water agency dumping sludge removed from settling ponds, onto a Takuvaine property that’s next to taro patches. “TTV has failed to produce this EIA and are now saying they’ve run out of time and need to be able to dispose of this sludge quickly and without the benefit and guidance of an EIA — I don’t support that at all.” - MP Selina Napa. Napa said she’s also very unhappy that as a member of REA “we were cautioned via email to keep this matter confidential and it wasn’t intended for public information”.
- 14 May 2021: Sludgy dilemma: Dump or leave in water? Cook Islands News.
The National Environment Service (NES) has put a hold on proposals for the construction of additional sludge storage ponds in Turangi and a dumping site in Takuvaine.
- 15 May: Kata: Water treatment woes.Cook Islands News.
- 15 May 2021: Find another way to get clean water. Cook Islands News.
Last month Te Mato Vai met Turangi landowners and told us about the PACl trial. Matt Boyd from GHD said that they were producing much less sludge than they were expecting. He said it would be another six months before it would be a problem.
He didn’t tell us the ponds are already full, and are under 24-hour surveillance. There is too much sludge — there is a risk of it getting into the stream. And now they want to build more ponds.
- 19 May 2021: To sludge or not? Landowner speaks. Cook Islands News.
“We have made our own decisions based on science, our own investigations, and the consensus from us, this sludge is good and perfect for our needs,” letter writer Louis Enoka says, in defense of sludge disposal plan.
- 27 May 2021 Major water infrastructure project ‘completed’. Cook Islands News. (Papua) CITV.
Yesterday the new Papua water intake was unveiled by landowner Pa Marie Ariki. “I willingly supported this project because it’s about the livelihoods of our people. I believe that we as landowners can contribute our land for the good of our community, and we should not be standing in the way of progress.
For the past six months water from the Papua intake has been flowing into the network as part of the Polyaluminium Chloride (PACl) trial, Boyd said. “We have looked at the different environmental results — in the excess of 10,000 tests to date around the island, in the streams and the water that come out from the plants.”
- 28 May 2021 Taipara and Totokoitu plaque unveiling. CITV.
- 1 June 2021: Letter: Sludge: The ‘cart’ has already bolted. Cook Islands News.
Eutrophication is the degradation of water bodies due to an excess of nutrient, often resulting from synthetic fertiliser run-off. In Rarotonga surface contaminants move rapidly from sloping fields, to waterways, and then to the lagoon.
Surface flooding has now become almost routine. Encouraging the increased use of synthetic fertiliser is irresponsible when our lagoon is already in crisis.
GHD are simply attempting to transfer the burden of an insufficiently-localised treatment method to a naive and trusting populace.
- 1 June 2021 Te Mato Vai Sludge. CITV.
Grower Robert Wigmore cautions growers on reuse of PACl sludge. Andy Kirkwood on improving the storage ponds to avoid stream discharge.
- 2 June 2021: Water treatment sludge moved without consent, landowners say. Cook Islands News.
Vaikai Mataiapo Sonny Daniel, a landowner says he was not informed of the removal of sludge or of TTV’s proposed planned extension of the sludge pond.
“I’m not happy that this is been done, I’d like to know who permitted this (sludge removal) and most importantly land owners must be included in any discussion of any plan to build another sludge pond.”
Vaikai Mataiapo said that neighbouring landowners at the intake should also be included in the discussions of the proposed sludge pond, “this is what causes problems, the lack of communication.”
Community group Te Vai Ora Maori (TVOM) are calling on Government to trial alternative water treatment methods.
“This is not an ‘us-versus-them’ situation,” acting-chair Justine Matatoa Flanagan said.
“We can achieve a reliable water supply system without risking our ecology, food security, or economic recovery. We have a responsibility to future generations. ”
- 3 June 2021: Sludge latest challenge for new Cooks water system
. RNZ News.
…government is facing a dilemma about what to do with the sludge that accumulates at the water intakes high in the hills of Rarotonga.
- 3 June 2021: Efforts continue to recoup millions from Chinese firm. Cook Islands News.
Prime Minister Mark Brown, then deputy PM in the Henry Puna-led government, put the cost of the remedial work at $13 million.
- 8 June 2021 LETTER: Say ‘no’ to water charges Bill. Cook Islands News.
Reassurances from the (parliamentary) select committee, that charging is: “some way off”; will only be imposed “when the leaks have been fixed”; or “hope that there may be no need to charge” are empty promises. The only certainty is that water charges will be a burden on our people.
- 11 Jun 2021 Landowners recognised at water intake ceremony. Cook Islands News. (Turangi) CITV.
According to Boyd, at Turangi it has been difficult to dry out the sludge. “The valley is very narrow, it has very high tree cover, and the wind doesn’t get into it very much, therefore it just naturally doesn’t drain.”
- 14 June 2021 ‘Successful results’ from chemical trials at water intake. Cook Islands News. (Matavera)
“We want safe, reliable and free water into our homes,” said Kiriparu Mataiapo Margaret Matenga at Te Mato Vai’s (TMV) landowners recognition ceremony last week.
- 15 June 2021 Disinfecting water next step: PM. Cook Islands News. (Tupapa)
Government will seek advice from traditional leaders and health experts in disinfecting Rarotonga’s drinking water.
In his address, Prime Minister Mark Brown said mud seen in the sludge ponds would normally appear in the taps at Rarotonga homes but “the PACl (Polyaluminium chloride) trials have shown that during periods of heavy rain, our water has been clear”.
PM Brown said: “It is a health issue, not a water issue, not a traditional customary issue, it’s very different now and those things will come when the government decides to take the next step towards disinfecting our water; looking at the traditional leaders and health experts to give us the guidance as to what we should do.”
In previous meetings, Brown expressed he was amused that “people had concerns we were changing our customs, changing our culture; our tribes lived in the mountains close to the water, only when Christianity arrived peopled moved towards the coast. So our culture was already changing”.
- 17 Jun 2021 ‘I am the river and the river is me’. Cook Islands News. (Takuvaine) CITV.
The New Zealand high commissioner to the Cook Islands Tui Dewes shared a fitting quote at the occasion, “ko au te awa, te awa ko au — I am the river and the river is me’.”
- 22 June 2021 Avatiu intake ‘has larger storage capacity’. Cook Islands News. (Avatiu) CITV.
The water at the intake periodically dries up but it also supplies a lot of water through the system that delivers to much of the town area.
Water is collected at the constructed dam (built last year) before entering a settling chamber where polyaluminium chloride or PACl is added to remove dirt and other unwanted particles.This process takes about 3.5 hours. Sludge is moved to a scour pond below while the water moves through pipes down-hill to the AVG sand filter before entering the storage tanks.
The PACl is set on a dosing process, a low dose rate is set for when the weather is regular and clear, an intermediate dose rate is fixed for when the weather is predicted to be showery or changeable and for heavy weather (rain), the dosage is adjusted to a higher setting.
- 24 June 2021 LETTER: Water chemical permit ‘comes unstuck’. Cook Islands News.
Responses to the To Tatou Vai (TTV) application to operate the new water system close July 4th. As operation started in Sept last year, the public could be forgiven for thinking that a decision has already been made, and that the permit application is simply a formality.
There have been seven environmental incidents coinciding with the commissioning processes; with four of those impacting on koura. Uncharacteristic behaviour, reduced populations, and mortality linked with deliberate or accidental discharge of residual to the streams adjacent to the treatment facilities.
- 25 June 2021 Ngatoe intake on uninvestigated land. Cook Islands News. Cook Islands News. (Ngatoe) CITV.
One of the seven mataiapo of Rutaki who oversaw the Ngatoe water treatment plant’s development on uninvestigated (customary) land, says negotiations with government regarding Te Mato Vai project has been intense. Tupaea Mataiapo Temu Okotai said there had been difficulties, arguments and discussions. “We wanted clean water — we gave government permission and said, you fix the water.”
- 29 June 2021 Govt completes Raro’s water intake handover. Cook Islands News. (Avana) CITV.
At the request of the landowners, the original date that was set weeks ago, was postponed.
The 4 kilometre drive, the longest to any of the intakes, to reach Avana intake crosses over 19 fords that were created by Mike Rennie for McConnell Dowell to improve access to the treatment plant.
Landowners now urged to get behind and support the disinfection phase of Rarotonga’s water treatment facilities following the conclusion of the intake recognition ceremony yesterday.
- 29 June 2021 OPINION: Honouring the landowners for their support. Cook Islands News.
The completion of the TMV project is a huge achievement and is a developmental landmark for our country as it will have significant national health, economic and environmental benefits.
Since our initial meetings with the landowners in 2016, we have worked closely with them through each step of the process, including site inspections, planning, design, construction and commissioning of the water treatment infrastructure, something that involved dozens of witnessing points along the way.
- 20 June 2021 Local news: Handover to To Tatou Vai. CITV.
To Tatou Vai chair Brian Mason on water charges, chlorination, and 50 faults.
Also see the Te Vai Ora Maori - Clean, Safe Water Rarotonga Facebook Group Page.
Updated: 20 May 2021.