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Bongabonga Water Tank

The 29th May 2009 saw a massive earthquake hit Tongoa Island in Vanuatu. 80% of the water tanks on this "dry" island were either damaged or destroyed.

       

On the 12th June 2009 four members of Waitakere City Rotary arrived on the island for a pre-planned visit to complete the Aid Station that serves two remote villages - and managed to bring two plastic water tanks with them to help solve the water crisis in Meriu Village.

Bongabonga Village was in a slightly better state in the short term. Although many of the village tanks had been destroyed they had the tank for the Aid Station in the central area. During the wet season they were fine but water for the community became critical in the months of the dry season.

The major source of water for Bongabonga is a huge 64,000 litre tank - 4m wide x 4m long x 4m deep. At the time of the quake it was full and the seiche action of the water cracked the corners to half its depth (it cracked further over the following months)

   

Kerry looked at it, came up with some ideas for repair and once back in New Zealand he consulted some Engineers and came up with a Plan.

Getting back to the island took time. Rotarians pay their own airfares to the island and have to fit the travels in around their work schedules; it also took time to raise the money for the materials for the repairs.

On Saturday 1st May 2010 Craiger, Kerry and Phil, an Engineer from New Lynn Rotary, flew out to the island to repair the tank. Phil also assessed the earthquake damaged school to see if it was repairable. It is, but that is another story.

The Plan was to:

  • Install metal straps around the top of the tank to prevent further damage
  • Install a plastic liner
  • Install a mosquito proof roof to shade the water - and keep the mosquitos out
  • Install a hand water pump.
  • Install a pipe from the outlet - half way down the tank - to pipe water to a central area in the village

 

The advantage of a pump is:

  • To prevent the roof being opened and closed on a regular basis (how long would it be till the opening gets left open?)
  • The current system to extract water from the tank is to lower a bucket or a teapot on a curved stick (potential risk of damage to the liner)
  • It is far safer when the water level is low (4m is a long way to fall!)

 

The pump was supplied by The NZ Pump Company. Once installed the boys had to test the pressure in their own unique way. 

The trip was a complete success and the story of it can be found in our 12th May Newsletter. The video below shows the steps involved and the partnership of the local villagers with the Rotarians. When we show up the whole village turns out in force to help and learn new skills. It is a hugely rewarding experience for both the Rotarians and the villagers.

NOTE: The island tanks (known locally as "wells") were largely built in the sixties with concrete made from local sand and rocks. Aside from varying qualities of concrete the big problems are 1. They are square rather than round and 2. They contain little in the way of reinforcing. The Bongabonga tank does have steel in it - but only vertically, not horizontally around the corners. Thus the cracking rather than total destruction.

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