Cyclone Evan damaged parts of the water supply system, leaving parts of the country without proper supply, especially on the main island of Upolu.
Tainau Titimaea, Managing Director of the Samoa Water Authority, says they've learned some valuable lessons from the experience of Cyclone Evan.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Tainau Titimaea, Managing Director of the Samoa Water Authority
TITIMAEA: Well most of the networks are online now. All the water in Apia is now online and also in the villages, full electric power supply has been restored. So at the moment we are just repairing the leakages and some blockages due to the cyclone. But everywhere we are actually are required to supply water is being supplied with water right now.
HILL: So is there anyone in Samoa that still doesn't have access to clean drinking water?
TITIMAEA: Well at this stage I'd say 85 per cent of our customers have got water now. The other five per cent are the people who still haven't got the water probably due to leakages or blockages. But all our mains on the island of Upolu is now on.
HILL: What about the quality of the water supply? We were speaking to a person from Oxfam on the program yesterday and he was telling this that he was recommending everyone still boil their drinking water just to be on the safe side?
TITIMAEA: Yes even if we chlorinate the water at the plants they're still really infected because of the leakages and blockages. But anyway all the water is in the main town of Apia, and boil water, really boil water.
HILL: I understand that people from the Samoa Water Authority have worked particularly hard through this what is after all a holiday period to get all this stuff reconnected?
TITIMAEA: Yes we've been working 24/7 all throughout Christmas and New Year to get the water back, and as a result that's the reason why we've got the water back on. The 22 days we got water on the island, most of the island. We are also working with some Australian AusAid people here, working with us, consulting and helping us on our recovery period. Some of them are actually involved in doing a bit of estimates and costs and things like that to get some form of cost of the whole operation.
HILL: As a result of all this and the problem that it had impacting on the water supply and it took a while to get everyone back onto the water supply, are there any long term lessons learnt from this whole exercise with the effect that cyclone Evan had on the water supply? Are there things that you're going to look at now perhaps to make sure the system doesn't get this badly affected again in future?
TITIMAEA: Well we had one most important lesson we learnt is that we need to locate some of our water lines that are in the rivers being washed away. So we have to look at the long term of realigning so that we don't have to have the pipelines in the river, we had to relocate them so they're on the side of the river instead of in the middle of the river. The other important issue we have is the capacity of our water trucks to truck the waters while we're trying to get the repair done. We just made it to in the last couple of weeks, but I think we need a couple of more of them to be able to supply people with water whilst we try to do the repairs.
HILL: So what you want, new bigger water trucks, bigger water trucks? What kind of different water trucks?
TITIMAEA: Yes a couple of water trucks and also we need to actually have a little bit more of the workforce to increase because some people are now on the verge of being too tired, so we have to look for some drivers and all that. But we didn't get to that stage. I think we were getting to that stage when we got our line on, but it could have been much worse if the water shortages were still continuing, because we had to give some rest to the people that were trucking the waters. So not only the water trucks, but also the actual human resource to work to support that operation.