Residents of Yap State, the westernmost state of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), are experiencing their fourth month of extreme drought, and face critical challenges in maintaining a safe water supply for their communities.
The Pacific Community (SPC) is now working with public water authorities in the state to make more efficient use of existing infrastructure and help identify new water sources.
The work is being conducted as part of the € 4.5 million European Union – North Pacific – Readiness for El Niño (RENI) project, which is focused on securing food and water resources for vulnerable communities ahead of droughts.
“The European Union is committed to helping the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific address the ever-increasing risks posed by climate change and natural disasters.
Understanding the nature and underlying cause of these complex phenomena is an important precursor to implementing solutions. This is fully in line with the European Green Deal – the EU top priority for the years to come,” said Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam.
Starting in May 2019, a technical team from SPC visited Yap Proper to assess groundwater resources and meet with the managers of the four water authorities and the utility company.
During a month-long follow-up visit in September 2019, the team undertook an assessment of the largest underground water reserve, the Gagil-Tomil Aquifer, and carried out pumping tests to determine the impact of current extraction rates on the aquifer and between wellfields.
“Dry conditions began to impact Yap in October 2019, and April 2020 marked Yap’s fourth consecutive month of extreme drought with precipitation totals below 4 inches of rain. This drought now ranks as the tenth most severe on record,” said the Staff Meteorologist of the Yap Weather Service Office, Mr. Javez Mooteb.
Yap residents are being encouraged to use water conservation measures as the water authorities are facing challenges maintaining the water supply.