Some Port Vila harbour water now safe for swimming

The Department of Water Resources and the Port Vila City Council have lifted a swimming ban over parts of Port Vila harbour near Feiawa Park after tests indicate the water is safe for swimming.

The Director for the Department of Water Resources, Erickson Sammy, says the swimming ban has been lifted from waters alongside the area from Chantilly’s Hotel to the Port Vila Market.

Mr Sammy, says the department banned swimming and fishing in harbour waters in 2018 because tests showed dangerous levels of bacteria in the water.

He says a private laboratory in Port Vila has been continually testing the harbour water since the ban was imposed and this year those tests showed the water in the area is clean.

“The results from the recent tests have shown an improvement which means the sea [in this area] is clean,” he said.

“Therefore, the National Water Resource Advisory Committee met last month and decided to lift the ban in the areas mentioned.

“The area is now clean and safe for people to swim in but fishing is still not allowed because the fish in the area might have fed in [nearby] unclean waters.”

However, Mr Sammy says sea water alongside areas from the Grand Hotel to Government wharf and from Chantilly’s Hotel down to the Tebakor area is still unsafe and the ban remains in place there because of high levels of bacteria.

The high levels of bacteria are a result of large amounts of waste water being released into the harbour from toilets and business houses – with particularly human faeces creating unsafe conditions.
Kitchen waste going into the harbour has also contributed to the problem.

Mr Sammy says sea water from Chantilly’s Hotel to the Port Vila Market is now clean and safe because businesses in the area have improved their toilet and drainage systems.

The department will continue to monitor the area to prevent high levels of bacteria entering the water in the Port Vilas area, and will issue fines to businesses who do not act to fix their waste systems in line with regulations.

Mr Sammy says the department is working with the Port Via City Council to issue directives to business houses who still need to improve their waste water and toilet systems.

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