6 Oct 2017

Cooks outer islands struggle with septic tank sludge

12:04 pm on 6 October 2017

The body looking after the interests of outer islanders in the Cook Islands, the Pa Enua Division, wants the government to help the islands 'de-sludge' their septic tanks.

Most households in the outer islands are forced to manually empty overfull septic tanks using shovels, buckets and wheelbarrows.

The Pa Enua Division director, Otheniel Tangianau, said improving domestic water supplies in the Pa Enua in the last ten years resulted in old fashioned 'long drop' outside toilets being abandoned in favour of flush toilets inside homes.

But he said with homes built on hard makatea [coral], as they are on Mangaia, it is very more difficult to have underground drainage or a soaking system to cope with any tank overflow.

Mr Tangianau said it was a problem for the government to solve, working with stakeholders who have the technical capacity to help.

He said the other issue is finding somewhere to dump the sludge and manage the waste.