Fresh water supply: September 2011 Archives

Dealing with Drought: Mitiaro Island

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One of the things we've learned at Seacology is that all islands, however similar they may seem, each face a unique set of challenges. Some islands in the South Pacific, for instance, get all the rain they can handle. But in Mitiaro, a 12-square-mile island in the north-eastern end of the Cook Islands, they can't get enough.

Mitiaro-cave1.JPG
During Mitiaro's dry season (typically from June to November) the island's 200 residents must rely on reserves they store in water tanks. When they suffer droughts -- as is the case right now -- they may have to resort to dipping into the island's natural resevoirs, the pristine fresh-water pools found in remote caves.

But even that isn't so simple, since just getting to the pools can be challenging and dangerous. One cave requires that you climb down a tree and then navigate steep, slippery rocks before you reach the water.

Our project in Mitiaro addressed both these issues. In exchange for the conservation of 3,000 acres of forest (roughly a third of the island!) we funded the installation of a safe pathway with handrails to the cave pools, plus the renovation of eight 10,000 gallon water tanks (pictured below).
Seacology funded refurbished water tank Mitiaro water tank.jpg