Algae Bloom in Vaturu Dam

WAF’s Chief Executive Officer, Opetaia Ravai taking a trip around  Vaturu Dam in Nadi on Wednesday. Photo: WAF.

By ANA SOVA

The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) is facing a problem it has never faced before with algae blooming in its Vaturu Dam in Nadi.

The algae growth has affected water supply to customers in parts of Nadi as algae growing in the dam continues to flow to the Nagado Water Treatment Plant.

WAF’s CEO, Opetaia Ravai said they know the algae growth is caused by high nutrient level in the water body of the dam.

“So the cause of that high nutrient level could be due to various factors, it could be the high level of silt in the dam that’s causing a lot of decomposition materials, the activities surrounding the areas of the dam,”

WAF CEO, Opetaia Ravai surveys the algae sediments scrapped off the sand filters at the Nagado Water Treatment Plant. Photo: WAF.

“We have to look at that and see if there’s any logging activity near the dam where a lot of debris is passed into the dam that’s causing this decomposition and high level of nutrients hence causing increased algae growth,” Mr. Ravai said.

He said algae getting to the treatment plant have really slowed down the filtration process as manual work has to be done along with the normal back washing process.

Workers now have to descend into the filter after a back washing cycle to scrape off the algae that flows into the plant settling on top of the sand filters before the cycle is repeated.

“In the meantime we are doing some immediate fixtures, our operations at the plant have changed a bit in terms of manual cleaning of the filters,”

“Therefore the treatment process has slowed down that’s why the production level to the customers have dropped because we want to make sure that we treat  this water properly so that it comes to the consumers safe and clean to drink, that is very important,” Mr. Ravai said.

WAF workers scraping off algae sediments settling on top of the sand filters at the Nagado Water Treatment Plant. Photo: WAF.

The Authority has hired a water aeration equipment to supplement the dam’s existing air compressor to pump more oxygen into the water to alter the algae growth.

“It could take up to two months before we can bring this unprecedented algae growth under control and return Nagado water supply up to normal,” Mr. Ravai said.

He said in the meantime WAF is supplementing water supply by carting water to affected areas.

“We now have 23 trucks carting water to those areas affecte3d as well as 10,000 litre tanks placed in strategic locations to allow members of the public to access water,” Mr. Ravai said.

Areas affected include the general Votualevu area from Tadra Road, ATS, Savunawai right up to CAAF compound, the Holika areas, Nadele from Thompson Road up to the Sleeping Giants, Lolobalavu areas and along Nadi Back Road, Solovi areas, Nasau from SSS Hotel right up to Mulomulo Village, Nagado areas such as Malolo, Navo, Tunalia, Nacovi, Saonaisali, Malamala, Nawaicoba, Yako, Nabila, Fiji Marriot Momi Bay Resort and Uciwai.

Mr. Ravai said WAF is deeply sorry for the disruption and is placing all of its resoyurces to fix the problem, but it will take time.