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PROJECT TITLE:

WRRC workshop in American Samoa


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:

Philip Moravcik, University of Hawaii, Water Resources Research Center

SPONSOR:

National Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Research Institute Program

PROJECT PERIOD:

3/1/2014 - 2/28/2016

ABSTRACT:

The Water Resources Research Center at University of Hawaii started to administer the State Water Resources Research Program for American Samoa in 2013. It was proposed under this project to carry out an integrative consultation with the stakeholders of the water sector in American Samoa through a workshop and related field visits in Pago-Pago. The aim was to strengthen the WRRIP program and its implementation in American Samoa by increasing awareness the program among the local stakeholders, as well as providing an opportunity for WRRC to understand the requirements and priorities of American Samoa; assessment of local research partners and opportunities. The project was conducted in the Spring of 2016.

Problem and Research Objectives

The Water Resources Research Center at University of Hawaii has been administering the State Water Resources Research Program for American Samoa since last year, 2013. The administration of the program was initially difficult as researchers at WRRC have no firsthand knowledge of the ground realities in American Samoa and communication with concerned stakeholders in American Samoa is made difficult by the great distance from Hawaii. Several remote telephone calls with some key players in American Samoa were carried out early on, yet an integrative consultation with the stakeholders of the water sector needed to be carried out to improve the implementation of the WRRIP program and other associated water sector activities. For this purpose WRRC personnel held a workshop meeting in American Samoa with stakeholders from; the American Samoa Community College, the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, the American Samoa Power Authority (the agency in charge of the public water system), the American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group, the US National Parks,

Participants included:

  • Scott Burch, Superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa
  • Alice Lawrence, Fisheries Supervisor, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources
  • Timothy Bodell, Engineer, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency
  • Jason Jaskowiak, Chief Engineer, American Samoa Power Authority
  • Katrina Elaine Mariner, Water and Wells System Engineer at American Samoa Power Authority
  • Jewel Tuiasosopo, Chief, Water Quality Branch, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency
  • Will Spitzenberg, Senior Water Engineer, American Samoa Power Authority
  • Ian Gurr, American Samoa Community College
  • Mark Schmaedick, American Samoa Community College
  • Kelly Anderson-Tagarino, Extension Agent, University of Hawai'i Sea Grant College Program
  • Meagan Curtis, Watershed Coordinator, American Samoa Department Of Marine and Wildlife Resources Coral Reef Advisory Group
  • Antonina Teo - American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency
  • Mareike Sudek, Coral Reef Ecologist, American Samoa Department Of Marine and Wildlife Resources Coral Reef Advisory Group
  • Kristine Bucchianeri, American Samoa Department Of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Coral Reef Advisory Group
  • Sabrina Woofter, American Samoa Department Of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Coral Reef Advisory Group
  • Lise Soli, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency
  • Gina Faiga, American Samoa Department of Commerce, Coastal Zone Management Program
  • Marek Kirs, University of Hawaii, Water Resources Research Center
  • Philip Moravcik, University of Hawaii, Water Resources Research Center
  • Christopher Shuler, University of Hawaii, Water Resources Research Center

The objectives of the meeting were to establish and enhance linkages to local institutions and individuals to facilitate better administration of the WRRIP program, increase WRRC's awareness of the requirements and priorities of water issues in American Samoa, and to identify local research partners and opportunities. The visit provided avenues to develop cooperation, explore research ideas and gain better understanding of the field realities in American Samoa. The mandate of WRRC includes an obligation to broadly disseminate the results of its research activities to audiences of local water and wastewater agencies, environmental engineering consultants, other academic researchers, and interested members of the public in American Samoa and this meeting provided an opportunity to inform local stakeholders in American Samoa about the program.

Methodology

A three-member team traveled to American Samoa to conduct the workshop, visit pertinent offices and sites, and gather stakeholder input in identifying American Samoa's research needs. Informational materials about WRRC and its activities were distributed thereby promoting local stakeholders awareness about WRRC's activities. The team learned about priorities and requirements from site visits, and meeting with various officials and local personnel.

Principal Findings and Significance

The workshop took place January 11, 2016. Each of the participants in turn presented their priorities and concerns about water issues needing research in American Samoa. The presentations largely reflected the fields of specialization from which each participant came, but together gave a broad picture of priorities in the territory. As could be expected for an island, much concern about threats to the nearshore environment by pollution were expressed by most of the participants.

The following is a list of issues that were brought up by the meeting participants as being of special concern to them as water stakeholders in American Samoa:

  • Revision, updating of groundwater protection/recharge areas and associated modeling.
  • Building the capacity of the American Samoa Power Authority in regards to groundwater modeling and hydrologic monitoring.
  • Identification of new groundwater sources - possibly high-level, impounded sources.
  • Optimization of designs for septic systems appropriate for the island's volcanic geology.
  • Use of models in decision making for septic system permits.
  • Investigation of nearshore water quality, especially in regard to nutrients, algal blooms in Olosega lagoon.
  • Crown of thorns starfish population boom in Pago harbor area.
  • Island lacks a pumping truck to empty cesspools.
  • The enrichment of waters where corals grow by groundwater and the relationship of this to fish toxins.
  • Monitoring of reefs relative to watershed activities.
  • Biomonitoring of fish in nearshore waters.
  • Source tracking of nutrients flowing from watersheds to the ocean.
  • Post harvest wash water microbial quality for vegetable farmers to protect public health.
  • Identifying a method of rapid testing for microbial water quality in wash waters or agricultural waters.
  • Aunu'u island taro field salinization issues. Monitoring, modeling to identify sources and causes
  • Increased loading of nutrients and agricultural chemicals to waters due to increased vegetable farming. Education for farmers regarding optimal dosing of such chemicals, and related issues. Most of the new farmers are immigrants from Asia and there are some communication/cultural/enforcement issues.
  • Pesticide contamination of groundwater due to increased vegetable farming.
  • Impact of sedimentation on corals.
  • Microbial influxes and their effect on corals.
  • Science communications: in general and in specific forms that are accessible to Samoan population.
  • The microbial safety of "village" water systems - pipes that bring water from streams to houses in villages
  • Engineering assistance in the design of such village water systems.
  • Need to fill a vacant water researcher position at the American Samoa Community College. Training of such a person will be needed.
  • More gaging of streams.
  • Identification/monitoring of shellfish toxins.
  • Disinfection byproducts in the public water system.
  • Toxicity testing of water in Pago harbor. Monitoring of heavy metals from the cannery and shipyard?
  • High bacteria counts in recreational waters around Pago harbor.
  • Trash reduction in nearshore waters.