Aitutaki Water Gallery

26 March 2018

A new water supply system will improve the sustainability and reliability of the reticulated water supply for Tautu Village in Aitutaki. A groundwater infiltration system or “water gallery” will increase the capacity of the village’s water supply and offer the village’s 63 households improved resilience during times of drought, whilst removing the reliance on the existing, underperforming galleries.

Aitutaki primarily relies on rainwater for its potable water supply (drinking and cooking only). Households collect rainwater from their own roofs and have been supplied with water tanks for storage. For community storage rainwater is collected off numerous community buildings and stored in tanks around the island, which are in various states of repair. There are also a couple of UV water stations on the island.

Non-potable (bathroom, laundry, cleaning, agriculture use, etc.) water supply is sourced from seven groundwater galleries around the island. Electric pumps supply water from the galleries to elevated reservoirs from which the water is distributed to homes via a piped reticulation network.

The recent 2013 drought which impacted Aitutaki was a catalyst for re-thinking water security on Aitutaki. A strategy was developed involving the establishment of new water galleries to take the pressure off the existing galleries, some of which are demonstrating slow recharge rates.

Vaipeka, Tautu and Vaipae villages were chosen as the priority areas for assistance because they are currently the first villages to suffer from reduced flows in their reticulated supply during dry periods.

The Aitutaki Island Government identified Tautu Village as the highest priority for a new water gallery. This village is the worst suffering during drought periods due to the poor performance of the existing gallery and the distance of the village from other galleries.

“Another reason for firstly progressing with a new gallery for Tautu, was that the community identified a suitable area of land which the landowners were willing to develop for a gallery, reducing the risk of delays to the project.” Says Victoria Clark, Volunteer Service Abroad Water Engineer working with Infrastructure Cook Islands.

Potential other future water projects to improve the water security on Aitutaki include the erection of a one million liter water storage tank near the hospital and the development of another new gallery at either Arutanga or near the airport.

“We are in the early stages of developing a Water Supply Master Plan for Aitutaki, with the aim to guide and provide a more coordinated approach to future water projects on Aitutaki” adds Clark.