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Drought fears grip Palau; Islands extend state of emergency

A PROLONGED drought blamed on the El Nino weather system has dropped water levels to an even critical threshold at the remaining reservoir that the National Emergency Committee (NEC) fears that without rain the reservoir will run dry in the coming weeks. “Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) estimates that based on the current water level and usage rates and assuming conditions persists unabated, a total water outage is likely to occur in the next two to three weeks,”

NEC chairman Antonio Bells said in an April 1 letter to President Remengesau. President Remengesau as a result of the NEC’s advise sought an extension of the State of Emergency declaration which lapsed April 2 but lack of quorum in the Senate ended the state of emergency on a technicality.

NEC said that although it has been a productive 10 days with the state of emergency being utilised to identify existing wells, procure equipment to address water shortage, an extension of the declaration is necessary to “adequately implement measures tailored to mitigating this ongoing crisis and make reasonable preparations for a total water outage.”

Press Secretary Olkeriil Kazuo said that one water well will be operational this week stating that tests of the water was needed to be done before its allowed to be used. Kazuo however said that the water to be produced by the well would still be too little to lift water use restrictions.

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