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The Department of Water Resources (DoWR) has been conducting a case study on both the Emten and Ekasuvat Lagoons since 2020.

The findings confirmed the quality of water to be really toxic with harmful Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria and algae which makes the water look green.

This came about following complaints by residents living along the lagoon shores as they were concerned about their children who swim and fish in these waters.

Fast forward to this present day, the question is whether things have gotten better over time and whether it is now safe to swim and fish.

During the “voice Blong Erakor Bridge “event last week, DoWR Water Quality Officer, George Matariki, said a follow up investigation was made on a quarterly (3 months) basis on both of the lagoons waters and he confirms that the water quality is just as bad as it was last year.

Matariki says the hot spots of contamination are, Seaside, Tassiriki and in front of Cocomo Resort. He says the contamination still contains mainly fecal waste from the sewages which contain e-coli.

Both lagoons are connected by a narrow channel which is quite shallow in a lot of places and even the lagoons as well are quite shallow. Matariki says this contributes to the high level of contamination as it slows down the fresh supply of saltwater from the ocean to come in and circulate and flush out the rubbish.

Matariki says the reef at Erakor Island at the entrance of the Ekasuvat Lagoon is also a contributing factor to preventing the incoming flow of a fresh supply of saltwater from the ocean.

In some places around the world, coral reefs have been dredged to allow the ocean to flow in and fix the problem however, DoWR Water Technician, Charles Kanas says, there are no plans in place for such work to be carried out though he does believe that having shallow water does cause the lagoons to be contaminated for long.

Although there have been safety warnings since last year, Erakor Bridge residents seem to be oblivious to these warnings and continue to swim and fish every day in the contaminated waters.

Kanas says as a result of that, he has noticed a lot of the kids in the area showing rashes and other sores on their arms and legs.

He adds they want to put up a legal ban on swimming in both lagoons like they did for Fatumaru Bay last year. He says the cause of pollution is most likely on land so when the ban is on, they can work towards solving the pollution issues.

Kanas says they will be asking the hospital, resorts and residents who have waste water discharge into the lagoon to improve their systems.

Matariki is urging parents to start at home by teaching basic waste management to their children.