National Emergency Committee issued Water Shortage Watch status yesterday restricting use of water due to minimal rainfall and high level of consumption causing water levels at water sources to drop.

Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) on Monday April 13th, will activate water rationing schedule.  According to issued schedule, water will be turned off starting at 11:00pm to 5:00am and affected areas include Koror, Airai, Babeldaob, Kayangel, and Peleliu.

Due to minimal rainfall and high water consumption, the water levels from the 2 primary water sources to Koror and Airai continue to drop.  Ngerimel dam was at 22.58ft on April 1st, and on April 10 dropped to 21.42ft. Ngerikiil which serves as primary source for Koror and Airai, started off at 6.42ft at the beginning of April and now sits at 3.08ft.  According to report from NEC and PPUC, rainfall forecast for months of April and May may not be sufficient to maintain adequate water levels at these two primary water sources as well as the other States.

In response to Island Times inquiry regarding Palau’s current capacity to handle a potential drought situation, President Remengesau expressed confidence that Palau can address water shortage through careful monitoring and water conservation measures.

“We are fortunate to be exiting our normal dry season into May when we can expect rainy season to begin.  But should we indeed enter into water shortage situation, our water storage capacity has increased since previous drought and our dam leaks have been repaired,” stated President Remengesau.  “I was pleased to hear the report from our national weather service that we are expecting rain by mid-April,” he added.

“The NEC and PPUC are monitoring our water levels carefully and we will act on their recommendations. The most important action for us now is to conserve water.  That being said, we have to be mindful of the possibility of a drought and the possibility of a coronavirus entry into the Republic.  With our resources committed to mitigating COVID-19, we have to be ever more vigilant in water conservation and practicing preventive measures against COVID-19,” declared President Remengesau.

Under Water Shortage Watch status prohibited activities include car washing, water blasting, and other non-essential use of water. This will be in effect until further notice and careless use of water can be reported to PPUC at 488-3870/3872/3877. The public is urged to conserve water during this dry season.

Palau experienced one the worst droughts in its history in 2016 and implemented number of measures to address future droughts, including adopting a Drought Action Plan that outlines specific actions and steps for the national government to prepare for and respond to when water shortages occur in order to guarantee critical public services and minimize impact of water shortage on public health, safety and economic activity.