water management is not a waste of funding By LUCINDA CHALKLEY


The importance of clean water is a serious and recurring problem in parts of Sydney, Australia and especially in Suva, Fiji, where some people do not have access to clean, running water. Australia is the third largest user of water worldwide, whereas Fiji is not on the scale. This massive inequality does not represent Fiji’s prowess in utilising sufficient water use, but rather a show of the inadequacy of Fiji’s water treatment plants.

Suva is the capital city of Fiji, located on the south-east side of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu


Outdated sewage pipe in Suva allows waste water to flow into streams
Suva locals fish for their food in Laucala Bay, Suva

4Fiji’s capitol city Suva, is home to 300,000 people, making up 1/3 of the total population of the Fiji archipelago. Water for local people is mainly supplied by local rivers such as: Waimanu & Tamara rivers, and the Savura Creek. Most local residents are dependant on water sources for survival (as a source of income, drinking water and way of transport). Suva's current water management system is outdated, so much so that even the Prime Minister of Fiji has apologised for the colonial plumbing systems. Only some out of the 74.5 thousand local residents (who can afford it) have plumbing and filtered water from taps, leaving the unlucky ones to collect water from 'fresh' water sources, or bottled water (which is again, most likely too expensive for low-income households).

But there is not enough fresh water to sustain these people. There are no alternatives for fresh water supply for these people, as the majority of Suva residents cannot afford water tanks. The constant consuming of polluted water can result in putting residents and ecosystems at an extreme risk of getting/spreading infection and disease, which could be seriously detrimental, as Fiji's public health care is embarrassingly futile, and it would cost the developing country's government too much to rejuvenate the environment. Other islands in the Fiji archipelago have utilised sources of water located as groundwater, surface water, desalination plants and rainwater, which just shows how far Suva is falling behind in water quality standards.

Out of 1618 households, 69% attained water from untreated sources, and only 31% received water from the PWD (Public Works Department). All of the untreated sources had unsatisfactory levels of coliforms in both Faecal & E.coli.


Children in Fiji play on the banks of a wasteland

There is very little information available to the public about Suva's s storage or disposal of waste water, and certainly a minuscule amount available about the safe and effective storage, transportation and disposal of waste water. But there are three known truths about the situation: 1) Suva's water is very polluted, 2) Most residents receive their water from 'fresh' water sources & 3) Consuming polluted water is detrimental to your health. Therefore, it can concluded that the poor health standards of Suva residents who drink from fresh water standards can be blamed on the constant consuming of polluted water, caused by sewage water infiltration.

The presence of chemical pollutants in waters is believed to be one of the contributors to poisoning in fish. Iron, heavy metals, nitrogenous compounds and phosphates were the substances often cited. As shown in the diagram, rural Suva is the second most affected city after Luatoka.
This graph shows the drastic the effects of food poisoning from eating diseased fish on children.

Because of the insufficient waste-water systems in Fiji, sewage has been known to infiltrate water streams and sources as run-off, and polluting the water. The waste water contains all the excess water from sites that have plumbing, meaning that the water contains 'waste' products in it, such as human faeces, cleaning detergents and other toxic chemicals. This perpetuates the decrease in the amount of marine life and plants can become sick, causing a diminish in biodiversity as well making the food not safe to eat, as shown in the graph above. This is especially hard on the local people of Suva, as they cannot afford to pay for medical insurance or treatments, and certainly cannot afford to continue to buy fresh drinking water. The effects of pollution in natural and artificial water streams have shown to have significantly decrease biological diversity in marine wildlife, specifically marine gastropods, which are the prime food source of many animals in the marine food web.

Investment in Water Utilities

Fiji's proposed 2016/2017 financial year expenditure has been totalled up to be $445.1 million, but expected to increase to $565.3 million in 2017. The government has granted the cost of spending on the national Water Authority of Fiji to be $229.4 million, the second highest paid sector, after Fiji Roads Authority ($510.6 million).


the Suva-Nausori Water Supply & Sewerage Project, has been approved for $70 million in Asian Develop bank (abd) loans.

The government has now obviously recognised the extent of what has to be improved in Fiji's national water management, especially in Suva, as it has proposed the Suva-Nausori Water Supply and Sewerage Project, which has been approved for $70 million in ABD (Asian Development Bank) loans. This project aims to improve the quality of local water and filtrated sewage water management in Suva-Nausori, and includes the refurbishment of 5 new sewage pump stations for the fishing community, and plans to commence in 2017. This million-dollar project includes improvements for:

- Water Sources & Treatment Plants. Total cost: $14 million

- Water Distribution Systems. Total cost: $26 million

- Integrated Meter Management. Total cost: $7.5 million (over budget, 7.8 million)

- Non-revenue Water. Total cost: $6 million

- Catchment Acquisition Program. Total cost: $3 million

- Wastewater Treatment Plant. Total cost: $9.526 million

SYDNEY'S water management

The completion of the Warragamba Dam in 1960

With nearly 5 million people living in the City of & Greater Sydney, it is essential to the overall health and hygiene of Sydney’s residents to have access to clean water at all times of the day. It is estimated that the Warragamba Dam in Warragamba, NSW supplies filtered, fresh water to nearly 3.7 million people in Greater Sydney, meaning that almost 80% of Sydney’s drinking water is sourced from Warragamba Dam. This is why it is imperative that Sydney's water is kept clean.


Warragamba Dam is currently managed by WaterNSW (an amalgamation of Sydney Catchment Authority and State Water since 2015), which manages a group of nearby rivers that make up the Warragamba Catchment Area, to ensure that these water sources have fresh water and a healthy ecosystem. Some of these water sources include the Warragamba River Wollondilly River, Cox's River, Lake Burragorang etc... The monitoring of the surrounding/tributary waters ensure that there aren't lots of pathogens, algae, sediments or unwanted chemicals such phosphorus in the water. The health of the catchments is important, not only for the drinkability of the water but also for the nearby properties of farmer's who live off the water, because 54% of the catchments are privately owned. This is achieved by 'Cleanout' (free household chemical collection for nearby properties), testing erosion on the land, especially after storms, pest and weed control or euthanising, and by monitoring/efficiently monitoring the movements of animals to ensure their safety and sustainability of habitats are taken into consideration when monitoring the water.


54% of the warragamba catchment area is privately owned

investment in water utilities

WaterNSW uses money provided by the government to ensure that its facilities and land is properly managed. Money allocated for education is used to inform and teach council staff about the catchment and the ways in which they will be monitoring it, as well as being used to educate the community about the importance of water and what individuals can do to ensure that the water is kept sustainably clean. Also concerning the local community are farmers, whose properties extend down to the water's edge, posing a threat to the cleanliness of the water sources. This problem is tackled by the use of grants, which is money given from WaterNSW to farmers, to assist teaching them and instructing them on how to establish efficient fencing, tree-planting, pumps and troughs, erosion control barriers and more barricades that keep unwanted substances such as animal faeces and general waste or chemicals such as fertilisers away from the water. This causes the water to be more reliable, as there will be less pathogens, germs and toxic chemicals in the water sources. The surrounding Warragamba community have a large magnitude of impact upon the quality of the water supplied by the Warragamba Dam, and it is essential to health of the majority of Sydney that these waterways are kept clean and sustainable.

This is an essential practice in maintaining Sydney's clean water, so as to avoid drastic circumstances in which the health of Sydney's residents could be affected. This value was challanged in the 1998 Sydney water crisis, in which the prescense of the pathogens cryptosporidium and giardia infiltrated Sydney's water supply system in Warragamba, making Sydney's water supply unsafe to drink. Ingestion of these pathogens would result in nausea, violent diarrhea, gastrointestinal illness and more. Water tests showed that there was presence of pathogens in the water supplied to the City of & Greater Sydney, such as Prospect, Potts Hill, Sydney Hospital, NSW Art Gallery, Macquarie Street, Centennial Park and more. In response, the whole of Sydney was instructed to boil water before use, and the Sydney Catchment Authority was established, to be responsible for catchments, dams and bulk supply reservoirs as well as Sydney Water retaining their management water supply, as well as water treatment, sewerage, and stormwater management. There have been no threats to Warragamba's water quality since.

In 1998, water in Centennial Park, Randwick, NSW was found to contain the pathogen cryptosporidium and giardia


While Australia is far more advantaged than Fiji economically and in a global aspect, they both have struggled with keeping communal water sources clean, as if not treated, they could negatively affect at least half a million people in the community. But, through the help of the government Suva will soon be able to experience a segregation of fresh water and waste water, which greatly improves the overall health of the local residents, and the creation of WaterNSW has ensured that the Warragamba Dam continues to collect fresh, clean water for 3.7 million residents in Sydney.


warragamba dam, australia


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Created with images by kenhodge13 - "Sydney's Warragamba Dam 1974" • ibsut - "Warragamba Dam" • luckyzheng20140 - "centennial park sydney black swan" • kylepost photography - "suva.fiji (33)" • aussiejeff - "Oct 1995 - View N across Lake Burragorang at Warragamba Dam, New South Wales, Australia"

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