In French Polynesia (French Overseas Territory in the South Pacific Ocean), water management is a key environmental issue, particularly on the most densely populated islands, where economic activities have developed and consume large quantities of this resource. It’s a strategic resource in small island territories that are highly exposed to the risks of shortage or anthropogenic pollution (from urban, industrial or agricultural sources).
Sources and consumption of drinking water on the island
Water for human consumption comes from springs and rivers, from the subsoil where it is drawn from boreholes or drainage galleries, or from seawater through desalination or osmosis. On low-lying islands, rainwater is also collected on roofs and stored in cisterns. Only half the population has access to drinking water from the tap, but this figure is rising. Where this is not the case, public fountains are installed or bottles/gallons are distributed to ensure access to drinking water for all. Water consumption varies from island to island and from commune to commune according to DIREN of French Polynesia :
- less than 150 liters per day per inhabitant in the atolls
- 250 to 350 liters per day per inhabitant in communes with metered water bills
- 1,500 to 2,000 liters per day per inhabitant in communes where water is not billed by meter.
Water management landscape in French Polynesia
Role of local authorities and government agencies
Water management in French Polynesia can be carried out by water companies or local authorities in charge of distribution and management of water resources (municipal services or government agencies responsible for water management in the region), but also by private companies operating in the water sector in French Polynesia through concessions or contracts for drinking water supply, distribution and other water-related services.
SPEA’ s contributions to water and wastewater services
Société Polynésienne des Eaux et de l’Assainissement (SPEA) is a local private company that has provided water and wastewater services in French Polynesia since 1992. Its mission is to guarantee water quality and quantity, ensure continuity of service, meet customer needs, while preserving the natural resources of several Polynesian municipalities under service delegation contracts: Papeete, Pirae, Moorea and Bora Bora. A few figures underline its impact: drinking water supply for 120,000 users, wastewater treatment for 65,000 people before discharge, management of 423 km of water networks, and computerized monitoring of water and wastewater at 210 sites. They also offer consulting services and provide equipment to public water services throughout the territory of French Polynesia.
Diehl Metering’s transformation of water consumption measurement
In 2012, Diehl Metering arrived in Polynesia with its ALTAIR V4 brass meter with metal glass register. With its 15 mm diameter and 170 mm length (replacing the former Kent PSM DN15, 170 mm) or 110 mm, this meter marked a significant advance in water consumption measurement. More accurate, more robust, more resistant to corrosion and climatic conditions, it is equipped with IZAR Rci R4 radio reading technology, which enables consumption data to be transmitted remotely, without the need for physical access to the meter. It is compatible with the 169 MHz VHF remote reading system, introduced by Polynésienne des Eaux in 2018, which enables data to be collected automatically and regularly, thanks to antennas installed on the islands. 95.7% of the 24,300 meters managed by Polynésienne des Eaux are ALTAIR, of which 20,860 are equipped with radio technology.
Modernizing and optimizing water networks with efficient meters and radio solutions adapted to the specific needs of the region are essential in French Polynesia.
French Polynesia's enduring partnership with local water services
As part of this partnership, a delegation of elected officials and water utility managers from French Polynesia visited our production site in Saint-Louis, followed by field visits to Colmar, Belfort and finally Lyon for the Pollutec trade show last October. One of the key aspects of successful and sustainable water management in French Polynesia is the enduring partnership with local water utilities. This strong collaboration has not only ensured the efficient operation of water supply and wastewater treatment, but also reflects a long-standing commitment to the well-being of local communities. Through collaborative projects, technological developments and shared expertise, local water utilities continue to improve, ensuring that French Polynesia's water resources are managed efficiently, sustainably and in harmony with the region's unique environmental challenges.
How will water management in French Polynesia evolve?
Stay tuned on the Polynesian Island water management evolution! Updates with Polynésienne des Eaux are coming on social media.’