Nauru Water and Sanitation Master Plan

At the request of the Government of Nauru, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through the European Union-supported Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States project, together with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility funded Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project commissioned NRW Specialists Pty Ltd (Australia) in association with NRW Macallan (Fiji) Ltd to prepare the Nauru Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan covering the planning horizon of 2015 to 2035.
The report details the planning considerations including the investigation of the water supply and sewerage infrastructure needs of Nauru for the next 20 years. It is noted that Nauru has underinvested in water and sanitation infrastructure for many decades and significant capital investment will be necessary to meet both the current and future needs for the island community for the provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
As noted in the report, extensive efforts have been made to keep the proposed technologies and systems as simple as possible to avoid high skills requirements as skills are difficult to acquire and come at a high cost to Nauru. Sophisticated equipment that requires skilled operation has similarly been avoided in technology selections. In addition, the remote location of Nauru and difficulties in delivery of spare parts and other essentials means that a higher level of self- reliance is necessary than at other locations where skills and resources are more readily available.
The proposed water supply system is a traditional water supply system with pumping to key reservoir locations and then making maximum use of gravity to supply a ring main which extends around the island. The water supply options have considered and accommodated the use of conjunctive water sources to reduce Nauru’s reliance on desalination although this remains the primary bulk water production source. Improvements in rainwater harvesting at a household level are possible and are actively encouraged.
The proposed sewerage system advocates the use of a Common Effluent Disposal (CED) conveyance system which retains the use of septic tanks at a household level. Due to the widespread use of inferior quality septic tanks and cesspits resulting in severe groundwater contamination, replacement of a large proportion of septic tanks has also been included in the proposed works. A conventional sewage treatment process without high operating skills or advanced technology has been proposed. The sewage treatment plant is also required to have the capacity to handle septic tank sludge and the proposed plant consists of anaerobic digestion, balancing tank, fine screening, trickling filter and a secondary settling tank.