Part of the Second Lagoon. Photo: File


Water analysis on Emtem lagoon and Erakor lagoon by Vanuatu Engie Services have confirmed high levels of Enterococci, a bacterium which indicates the presence of faecal matter.

According to the laboratory analysis report, which was requested and financed by environmentalist Carlos Noronha, Emtem Lagoon showed 60% of the bacterium present, while Erakor Lagoon results were 100%.

Given the results of the water analysis, it indicates that the water channels from Emtem to the sea inlet at Erakor and everything in between is likely contaminated.

The laboratory technician of Vanuatu Engie Lucy Obed who conducted the water analysis corresponded with Mr. Noronha via email prior to the testing that if the water quality was poor, it could pose a serious health risk.

In the correspondence it also stated that “Results may fluctuate with respect to time, climate and recreational activities done along with the sampling locations. It is highly recommended to carry out constant monitoring analysis for better determination (monthly),” hence why another report is planned for next month.

The marine environmentalist is trying to create enough awareness to garner the attention of the government to prevent littoral homes and villagers from swimming and fishing in the water, with the goal of having a fine similar to the one placed on Fatumaru Bay.

“After getting the analysis results, I asked two Environmental experts to help me to interpret the results, once I am not an expert on the subject,” Mr. Noronha said.

These results were conveyed to the Erakor Chief, the experts highlighted the health risk the contaminated water posed which is best described in an extract by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“Enterococci are indicators of the presence of fecal material in water and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa. These pathogens can sicken swimmers and others who use the rivers and streams for recreation or eat raw shellfish or fish,” US-EPA stated.

The extract added that the potential health effects include diseases of the skin, eyes, ears and respiratory tract.

Upon receiving the health caveats related to the contaminated water, Chief Timothy Natongtong of Erakor Bridge Community who spoke on behalf of the villagers responded with a few suggestions for the government.

“We haven’t seen any public information about the quality of the waters of the Erakor, (1st and 2nd) Lagoons, so because we care for the population of Erakor, we decide to make the analysis in a Laboratory who meet International Standards,” the Chief explained.

Upon introducing the reason as to why the waters were tested, Chief Timothy spoke out against any water related recreational activities while requesting assistance from the government.

“We request the support of the Department of Water Resources and other authorities to enforce all existent rules regarding pollution, make the pollution legislation be stronger to protect our people and environment.”

According to the chiefs, if the government turns a blind eye to the plights of the chiefs raised in the communique, they will be forced to take matters into their own hands.

“The Chiefs will continue to monitor the water quality of both Erakor Lagoons. If the quality of the water doesn’t improve considerable towards acceptable health and environmental levels, the chiefs will use their authority to fine all of those who are not respecting this communication,” Chief Timothy said.

While the results may vary over time, the sheer acknowledgement of the bacteria in the water is troubling, and with the next analysis just a few days away, one can only hope for the best for the sake of all the Resorts and Hotels that are along the lagoons.