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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
The main institutions related to water resources management are (SOPAC, 2007; Nexus, 2015):
- The Ministry of Mines and Energy: is responsible for providing national coverage related to water resources assessment, management and the development of groundwater.
- The Solomon Islands Water Authority (SIWA): is responsible for providing management and development of water resources and sewerage services in the capital Honiara and main urban areas, while provincial governments are free to choose SIWA or to operate their own supply.
- The Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services: is responsible for providing safe water and sanitation to rural populations in Solomon Islands
The Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) is an intergovernmental, regional organization including 18 Pacific island countries and territories, as well as Australia and New Zealand. SOPACís work is carried out through its Secretariat, based in Suva (Fiji). While the initial focus of its work was on marine mapping and geosciences, during recent years other scopes such as hazard assessment and risk management, environmental vulnerability, oceanography, energy, water and sanitation have been included.
In Solomon Islands there is an increasing demand for water which therefore needs proper management and development. In urban areas population has drastically increased over the years with limited expansion in the water supply sector. Similarly, rural populations have experienced deterioration in freshwater quality due to logging and agricultural practices.
Successive governments in the country have prioritized the water sector, especially provision of safe and reliable water supplies to rural communities and urban centres. However, there was little emphasis on water resources management and infrastructure rehabilitation and development of water and wastewater services.
In 2004, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) signed an agreement with SOPAC to develop an innovative programme on Sustainable Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for Pacific Island countries. This programme supports the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the implementation of the Pacific Regional Action Plan that addresses sustainable water management (SOPAC, 2007).
Water tariffs for the services of SIWA must take into account cost recovery to ensure reliability and sustainability of the services it provides and must be affordable to all users. SIWA is currently investigating possibilities to reduce energy costs. Rural water supply and sanitation is subsidized through government funding and overseas donors, mainly Australia, New Zealand, European Union, Canada, Japan and China. (SOPAC, 2007).
Policies and legislation
The Solomon Islandís Draft National Water Policy (NWP), developed under the EU-funded Solomon Islandís Water Governance Project, addresses water resource management, water supply and sanitation. It sets out a vision for universal coverage of water of adequate quality and quantity (ISF-UTS, 2011).
The legislation in the country related to water resource management includes (SOPAC, 2007):
- Waters Ordinance (1969): provides measures for watershed control in relation to rivers only and regulates the use of designated river water through permit applications
- Environment Act (1988): provides for the protection, preservation and conservation of the environment, including the prevention and control of water pollution
- Public Health Ordinance (1970): authorizes inspections to be conducted for the regulation of water pollution
- Water Authority Act (1992): provides for the establishment of SIWA for provision of proper management and development of urban water and wastewater services throughout the country
- Environmental Health Act and Provincial Ordinance: provides for the control and management of water and sanitation services in the rural area of the country
- Draft Water Resources Act (2006): for provision of water resources management in Solomon Islands