Status of Water Resources
Surface water is used as the main source of supply for all major towns on the larger, high islands of Fiji. Some small, low lying islands rely excusively on groundwater and may also harness rainwater. Contamination of the wells in the the small islands may happen due to lack of sanitation and awareness.
A considerable amount of potable water is lost in the reticulation system as a result of background leakage and frequent bursts. Several areas face problems with either too high or too low pressure. The Public Works Department is in need of updated equipment and training.
Problems with Water Resources and Associated Environment Issues
Fiji has numerous small islands, some of which are low in elevation and also inhabited. Surface water availability is a problem in some islands, which rely exclusively on groundwater and may or may not attempt to use rainwater. Rainwater harvesting using roof systems is widespread in Fiji but the psychology of rural people may fail to take into account the possibility of extreme climate events and drought when there is relatively abundant water for most of the time (for instance providing small capacity storage instead of larger capacity).
Some conflicts have occurred over surface water availability. In particular, there are conflicts between water for irrigation and water for other purposes in one or two cases.
Groundwater occurs on both the large islands and small low-lying islands, but the groundwater issues and challenges in these different physical environments differ. Groundwater is found in superficial and medium-depth strata on the larger islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and some large islands, in either fractured rock or sedimentary formations.
Significant groundwater deposits, such as the Nadi Valley coastal aquifer, on the large islands are available and are under pressure for devleopment.
Groundwater resources on small islands play a very different role. There are cases in Fiji of islands with superficial groundwater lenses in sandbeds or coral formations, which lie on marine water and can be readily exhausted. The fragility of superficial groundwater lenses means that they need to be carefully managed.
Hot Spot Analysis
Information on this page obtained from Integrated Water Resources Management programme's Diagnostic Reports (SOPAC 2007)