Desalination ground-breaking in Bipi today

The people of Bipi Island in Manus Province will receive contingents from the Japanese government funded pilot solar powered desalination project today.

Amongst the team going to Bipi this morning are three Japanese engineers from the Toray Industry, the manufacturers of the desalination plant.

The three arrived in Manus on Wednesday and were welcomed by officers from Sojitz Corporation, (the contractors) engineers of the seawater source well sites, staff from Department of National Planning & Monitoring and the National project manager of the PEC (Pacific Environment Community) fund desalination project, Tom Anayabere.

They will travel to Bipi today for the ground breaking and installation of the plant. Other island villages who will benefit from this milestone project are Mbuke (including its Whal Island), Nauna, Mal and Aawa islands. 

Project manager Tom Anayabere told Loop the project will see drills installed at marked beach well sites.

He said the plants that will be installed in the five selected islands in Manus (which Bipi is included) are custom made based on acidity, salinity, conductivity and specific gravity (pH) of the source water.

Water from these well sites will be then be extracted and converted into fresh drinking water.

He explained that they are using well water to minimise the effect of the waste into the sea.

“The waste from the desalination is very highly concentrated salt and that is not good for the marine environment. Your fish, your reef will die. This is a climate change type project and considering the environmental impact, the recommendation was to use the beach wells where the salinity level is lower.”

He said if salt water straight from the open sea is used, the filters will have to be replaced every two weeks but with the usage of beach wells, the filters can last up to six months.

(Caption: The desalination project team in Manus welcoming the Japanese contractors in Momote airport on Wednesday.)  

Sally Pokiton