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Over-extraction of gravel and sand from Waimanu River needs to be addressed – WAF CEO

Posted on May 22, 2024

High turbidity levels in the water due to extreme over-extraction of gravel and sand from the Waimanu River has been resulting in numerous water disruptions for thousands of residents in Tamavua, Sakoca, Tacirua, Samabula, Upper Ragg Avenue and many areas along Princes Road.

While speaking to fijivillage Straight Talk With Vijay Narayan, Water Authority of Fiji CEO, Doctor Amit Chanan says when you look back at the reports done for Waimanu River, including the state of the environment report of 2013, it has serious concerns about the gravel and sand extraction from the Waimanu River.

Doctor Chanan says Waimanu River is the main source of water supply to thousands of residents in the affected areas, and serious consideration needs to be given on why sand and gravel extraction licences continue to be given which increases turbidity levels.

He says he gets a lot of angry calls when they say there is a lot of turbidity, and people will face water cuts.

Doctor Chanan also raises the question on whether people think WAF would say yes you go and dredge all the sand and gravel in the Waimanu River if WAF was given the opportunity to contribute or asked that question before these extraction licences are given.

He says we are the only capital city that he knows of that has its major water intake infrastructure downstream of sand and gravel extraction and that lease has just been renewed. Doctor Chanan says they are often faced with turbidity issues every time it rains, and that same sand and gravel ends up in their pumping station and it impacts their ability to pump water.

The WAF CEO says this decision on extraction licences is outside their control but they have to deal with it on a daily basis.

He says they are an organisation that dives deep in the water intake infrastructure at 2 o’clock in the morning to ensure people have water when they wake up.

Doctor Chanan says he is always available to be included in consultations for the environmental impact assessments before decisions on developments or issuing of licences are made.


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