Cook Islands Water Works Division says it has received a number of complaints regarding the public swimming in restricted areas which store drinking water on Rarotonga, and this is causing major serious health concerns.
According to Cook Islands News reports, both tourists and locals have been swimming in the Takuvaine water intake area although there is clear signage in the area banning swimming, according to division manager, Wilson Rani.
Rarotonga is by far the most populated of the Cook Islands and its township of Avarua is the capital. Located in the southern group of islands, it is known just as Raro locally.
With warm tropical waters of around 27 degrees C in summer time, the swimming and diving in and around the reef is breath-taking. The Rarotonga Steinlager Vaka Eiva has to be rated as one of the most fun outrigger canoe festivals in the world, and Rarotonga is surrounded by stunning beaches and thick with fancy hotel swimming pools, so there is really no reason to swim in forbidden areas.
Rani has issued a plea to the locals and tourists to cease swimming at water intakes as this could contaminate the water and cause serious health problems for people drinking it. Under Cook Islands law, people found swimming in protected water catchments can face heavy penalties.
Takuvaine intake is from a freshwater intake and is not fenced, therefore easily accessible to people frequent the area for picnic and swimming. There is lack of storage facilities at most of the intakes and there is no other means to supplement the water supply. Due to no service fees to the consumers the water provider, Department of Water Works are under financial constraint and therefore cannot improve the system. Water from Takuvaine flows by gravity into two storage tanks with a capacity of 45,000 litres and 2.5 million litres, from where it is fed by gravity into the distribution system which is interconnected for the whole island.