Quenching PNG’s Thirst
Water PNG and Eda Ranu are sustainably safeguarding Papua New Guinea’s water supplies, driven by ambition and succeeding through practicality
EL NIÑO AND LA NIÑA. These are two terms, collectively categorised as ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation), that many of us may not be aware of, but have substantial implications on global weather cycles.
In the language of science, these refer to cyclical changes in surface temperatures of oceans that in turn lead to drastic changes in climates, often contributing to natural disasters.
One similarly scary effect of ENSO is prolonged droughts, dry spells that often lead to water shortages throughout the Asia Pacific on island nations where resources are already scarce. During the 2015 El Niño, for example, the Philippines declared emergency across 85 percent of its provinces, while Indonesia experienced its worst drought in 18 years.
However, with the right structure and preparations in place, such severe climates can be endured and handled effectively – planning that has been implemented in Papua New Guinea (PNG) since December 1986 following the launch of the National Water Supply and Sewerage Act.
A key function of this legislation was the establishment of a water board, tasked with coordinating the planning, design, construction and management of national water supply and sewerage services throughout the country.
Introduced to this end was Water PNG, later followed by the inception of Eda Ranu to oversee such services in the national capital district.
“Water PNG Limited is responsible for managing water supply and sanitation in the urban areas of PNG,” the Organisation states on its website. “Prior to its establishment the water sector was seriously fragmented resulting in poor service delivery and no cost recovery.”
However, in the decades since their founding, both Water PNG and Eda Ranu have played a crucial role in safeguarding the country’s water infrastructure.
300,000 people, 100 million litres
Much of the progress that PNG has experienced has been derived from Water PNG’s commitment to its overriding goal of becoming the nation’s leading provider of safe water supply and sanitation services.
In achieving these ambitions, Water PNG’s infrastructure has grown rapidly in previous decades, now operating more than 20 kilometres of distribution pipelines, 19 treatment plants and 20 distribution reservoirs and standpipes.
“Water that you drink goes through a number of stages before it reaches your tap,” Water PNG explains on its website. “From the water sources, whether it be a river or from under the ground (bore water source), it makes its way to raw water storage tanks or chambers. It then gets treated at the water treatment plants and is then transported to service reservoirs before getting distributed through pumping stations and water mains.
“There are more than 20 service reservoirs in the Water PNG water supply system. Water from the treatment plants is delivered by gravity fed bulk supply mains to these service reservoirs, before it is distributed through a network of reticulated pipes.”
Collectively, this network serves approximately 300,000 people across the island, providing over 100 million litres of clean water each day.
Further, having now established a proficient supply framework that serves substantial proportions of the population, both Water PNG and Eda Ranu have turned their attentions to ensuring that the water provided is of the highest quality.
Working in collaboration with the National Institute of Standard and Industrial Technology, sources are evaluated thoroughly through physical, chemical and microbiological analysis, not only complying with the World Health Organization’s Drinking Water Guidelines but exceeding them.
Progress in practice
Many of these successes can be found in Water PNG’s projects that are spread across the island nation, one such example being the Kerema Water Supply Project.
Set to be expanded in three stages, the project is currently operating with an elevated 30 kilolitre tank, chlorination facilities and a distribution system that supplies the surrounding region.
This is just one of a number of similar ventures that the organisation will continue to work on in the coming years, with many of these funded through PNG’s Public Investment Programme.
Other projects that come under this bracket include the Aitape Water Supply Project and the Bulolo Water Supply Project, each set to cover their respective districts as part of Water PNG’s Vision 2050, and the Ialibu Water Supply Project, where a groundwater source has been identified and will be leveraged to supply the town and surrounding areas.
Readily adding new water projects to the Public Investment Programme each year, Water PNG is actively recognised for its commitment to improving the livelihood and security of the country’s inhabitants, named the ‘Best Performing Large Utility’ and ‘Most improved Water Utility’ during the 2014 Pacific Water & Waste Conference.
Leading on from this recognition, Papua New Guinea played host to the eighth annual edition of the conference in September 2015.
The event was held in Port Moresby and was hosted by a partnership between the Pacific Water & Waste Association, Eda Ranu and Water PNG itself, bringing together representatives from 18 countries.
During this, the trio worked together to promote both regional and global excellence in water and waste management, bringing a range of topical issues to light, from development to technologically-driven industry innovation to climate change and sustainability.
These efforts in particular mirror Water PNG’s corporate values, based around integrity, teamwork, customer satisfaction and innovation.
“We value teamwork and encourage collaborative culture, openly sharing information, knowledge and experiences that foster joint commitments to common goals,” it reveals on its website.
“We recognise that change is constant and are therefore committed to continuous improvement and innovation, always ensuring that we inspire our people and our clients with creative solutions. We strive to be a catalyst for change to actively participate in the socio-economic growth of the nation.”
Moving into 2019, Water PNG and Eda Ranu will both hope that a continual commitment to their progressive philosophies will be crucial in maintaining continuous successes moving forward.
While Water PNG in particular had hoped to have expanded its water supply and sanitation services to two additional provincial towns and 16 district towns by the year’s end, in the long term, its Vision 2050 is similarly ambitious.
Currently, both Eda Ranu and Water PNG operate in towns where their operations are commercially viable. However, moving forward, Water PNG hopes that both organisations can cater to a much broader range of areas across the country, maintaining this existing momentum.
“We will achieve 100 percent coverage of provincial towns and 85 percent of all district towns progressing to the ultimate achievement of the PNG Vision 2050,” its long-term mission reads.
Water PNG’s network serves approximately 300,000 people across the island, providing over 100 million litres of clean water each day
“There are more than 20 service reservoirs in the Water PNG water supply system”