In September to October of 2019, a team of Drilling technicians from the Department of Water Resources (DoWR), with the support of the Pacific Community (SPC), undertook a 6-week drilling mission on the island of Tanna to investigate the potential for fresh groundwater resources.

The team used the electrical geophysical technique of resistivity to identify potential fresh groundwater at depths of up to 80 metres and the identified targets for drilling were the result of the 2017 Resistivity assessment with supportive elements from the Vanuatu drought index map.

North Tanna area and Middle Bush Tanna were the two target areas for this trip. Unfortunately, North Tanna area had some issues which prevented the team from completing their work but Middle Bush was a success. All 5 sites that were drilled produced water.

In response to the recent drilling Tanna Mr Erie Sami, Hydrogeologist with the Department of Water Resources Vanuatu, said “The drilling of five new water supply bores in Middlebush has great potential to really help the community with their access to freshwater for drinking, cooking, and washing.

“Now that we have found useful fresh groundwater supplies in Middlebush we first need to consult with the communities on what is needed and the best options to make the water accessible to people in need”.

The preliminary results from these surveys will be shared with the all communities involved. Before that time however, DoWR is advising the Area Administrators, chiefs, community elders and community liaisons in these communities to make sure no one damages, or installs anything without prior approval from the DoWR.

Mr Sami said, “we will look at existing piping systems and also consider standalone systems which would pump to tanks and distribute to strategically located standpipes, to make the best and efficient use of the fresh groundwater source.

“We will work with the community to undertake pumping tests on the bores, to ensure the bores are pumped sustainably, and determine a long-term yield, and then discuss options on the distribution of the groundwater for community needs.”

These successful boreholes have been drilled with by the Department with plans laid out for each site, whether it be to upgrade or install a new water system.

Director Erickson Sammy commented,” the government of Vanuatu uses the Drinking Water Safety Planning and Water security planning approach to implement new village water supply systems. The DWSP approach helps to coordinate our efforts with the concerned communities, Provisional government, and other donors, to ensure that the water supply systems are sustainable, can be managed locally long-term, and can build resilience to those communities in need during times of drought and cyclones”.

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