Protecting Fiji’s waters through
better wastewater management services
Climate change has affected the entire landscape of water and wastewater service provision globally.
Fiji, a small country in the Pacific Rim, is no exception. Made up of an estimated 332 islands, its geographical location makes it highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Fiji has experienced prolonged dry spells in recent years, which have severely affected its agricultural and water sectors.
Aside from the high probability of severe drought, Fiji’s waters is also threatened by indiscriminate liquid trade waste dumping from various nondomestic sources. This adversely affects the country’s highest foreign exchange earner, tourism.
To help address these issues, the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF), the country’s lead agency responsible for water and wastewater service provision, turned once again to the ADB WOPs Program, which has helped them improve their operational practices in the past. This time, focus is on developing the country’s drought resilience through water conservation initiatives and establishing a commercial footing for implementing an industrial liquid trade waste management program. This partnership complements the ADB-funded Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Upgrading Project, which seeks to develop a new water source, expand water and sewage treatment capacities, reduce nonrevenue water levels, and assist in the implementation of water and sewerage tariff reforms.
Sydney Water Corporation (SWC), the mentor, is a state-owned corporation of the Government of New South Wales and is considered the largest water utility in Australia. It is one of ADB’s long-standing mentors and a staunch supporter of the Pacific. SWC is responsible for the provision of water, recycled water, wastewater, and limited stormwater services to Sydney residents.
Aside from the usual remote consultations, on-the- job training sessions, and fi eld demonstration activities between WAF and SWC, the Department of Environment (DoE) of Fiji also participated in the twinning arrangement. In its capacity as regulator of WAF, DoE was able to attain a better grasp of managing environment protection licensing for wastewater utility operators and managing trade wastes in general. The interaction between Fiji’s DoE and the Environment Protection Agency of New South Wales gave the former invaluable insights on how to regulate operators and traders alike in a highly professional manner.
Over a period of 17 months, the partnership was able to achieve the following:
A preparatory workshop for the development of a roadmap for trade waste management system, which involved the review of existing institutional arrangements and dynamics between relevant stakeholders;
Integration of trade waste management with customer service management and consultations with commercial and industrial customers;
Initial roll out of plans to implement liquid trade waste regulations;
Drafting of Fiji’s liquid trade waste policy,
Benchmarking of SWC’s water quality management and water conservation practices;
WAF’s Liquid Trade Waste Unit staff were able to understand the scope of operational challenges that may arise and how these are addressed from the perspective of SWC operations; and
Audit of water conservation initiatives and efficiency programs, which determined the status of WAF’s level of readiness in terms of policy implementation, trade waste policy adoption and managing a trade waste program.
From this, WAF identified steps towards a comprehensive liquid trade waste management system.
The partnership arrangement is expected to be concluded by mid-2017.