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NZ helps protect lagoon water quality in the Cook Islands

NZ helps protect lagoon water quality in the Cook Islands

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced New Zealand will invest significantly in an on-going programme to upgrade residential sanitation infrastructure in the Cook Islands during a visit to Muri lagoon in Rarotonga today.

“The beaches and lagoons of the Cook Islands are a major tourist draw-card on which the economy depends,” Mr McCully says.

“Protecting the health of the Cook Island’s many lagoons is a priority for the Cook Island’s Government and New Zealand wants to support this effort."

It is estimated that residential sources contribute close to 40 per cent of the pollution entering the lagoons. Over the last two years New Zealand has funded a successful pilot project to replace aging and poorly built septic systems with modern residential systems in the Muri-Avana area. These systems will prevent a large amount of this pollution and significantly improve ground and lagoon water quality.

"New Zealand is committing up to $10 million over the next four years to complete all eligible residential septic systems across Rarotonga and Aitutaki, strengthen enforcement services, and improve water quality monitoring," Mr McCully says.

This investment builds on the success of Muri-Avana pilot project, jointly funded by New Zealand and Australia, which has already upgraded sewage treatment facilities at 240 properties around Muri lagoon.

“Our work at Muri and further investment will have a lasting impact on the Cook Islands environment and help safeguard the country’s lagoons for future generations of Cook Islanders and visitors alike,” Mr McCully says.

The European Union is supporting sanitation improvement in the Cook Islands.

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