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SOPAC conducts water scoping mission in Pitcairn Island

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SOPAC undertook a scoping mission to Pitcairn Island from the 30 May to 10 June 2010. The main purpose of this mission was to undertake assessments of water in order to address water security on the island as long term droughts are known to affect the 48-person strong population.

In the past, droughts have restricted domestic water supply which is mainly supplied by water tanks (water harvesting) and water available for irrigating crops (mostly from springs). Recently the only borehole and water springs on the island had dried up. This led to the request for solutions to improve their water supply and sanitation on the island.

Following the analysis of rainfall, catchment storage, water quality checks, streamflow monitoring, a groundwater investigation and drilling programme is likely to be instigated to assess options for back-up water supplies through additional boreholes at various sites for use in times of drought.

Getting to Pitcairn was a challenge that involved flights from Papeete to Mangareva, in the Gambier Archipelago (at the extreme southeastern end of the long arc of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia) and then a 36-hour trip aboard the government ship Claymore II to Pitcairn Island, 290 Nautical miles east south east from Gambier.

Although drilling more boreholes would alleviate the water shortages, landing a drilling rig on the island would be logistically challenging given there is no safe landing place for cargo. In addition, there are only four regular shipping services a year to Pitcairn.

There is a need for continued support by SOPAC to Pitcairn island, therefore, any future missions must be planned and coordinated in consideration of other developments on the island such as the construction of an alternative harbour and installation of a windfarm.



The mission was supported by the SOPAC EU funded sub-regional project to reduce risks in Pacific overseas countries and territories.


Marc Overmars - Manager Water and Sanitation Programme, SOPAC

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:13  


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