USGS Sponsored Research


Research Priorities

FSM's Critical Water Resources Research Needs
Identified at Previous Advisory meetings
Updated at October 4, 2011 Meeting, Chuuk

I. Ground, Surface, and Coastal Water Quality

Impact Issues

Definition: Research that leads to a better understanding of, or the possible solution to, problems caused by the impact of mans activities or natural processes on FSM’s fresh water quality.

  1. Impact of population growth, agricultural activities and road construction on upland erosion on high islands. Of particular interest are sites surrounding new road construction on Kosrae Island and sites within Pohnpei watersheds.
  2. Impact of burial practices, septic tanks, pit toilets, and piggeries on surface and ground water resources of high and low islands of FSM.
  3. Impact of climate variability on the incidence of water borne diseases in the FSM.
  4. Impact of using treated wastewater for non potable purposes in commercial areas of FSM.
  5. Impact of unregulated solid waste disposal and illegal dumpsites in FSM.
  6. Impact of aqueous discharges from unregulated municipal dump sites and shore based sewage treatment plants in the FSM on receiving waters and associated aquatic resources, with emphasis on ecological and/or human health effects.
  7. Impact of watershed mismanagement and concomitant soil erosion processes on species diversity and abundance of aquatic resources within the watershed and adjacent coastal waters.
  8. Update inventories of contaminant sources impacting FSM water resources.

Baseline Issues:

Definition: Research that leads to a better understanding of existing levels of contaminants to serve as a basis to judge the effects of mans future activities on the quality of FSM’s freshwater resources.

  1. Baseline studies of the quality of raw water sources to determine treatment requirements to make these supplies acceptable for human consumption.
  2. Baseline studies to determine potential health risks associated with working in taro patches and other stagnant bodies of water utilized for the production of food, with emphasis on incidence of infectious diseases (Dengue fever, Leptospirosis) and vector control.
  3. Baseline studies of biological and chemical contaminants (including nutrients) in streams, rivers and coastal areas impacted by anthropogenic activities including solid waste disposal facilities, sewage treatment plants, land clearing and agricultural practices.
  4. Expand the physical, chemical and biological water quality database for groundwater, surface water, rooftop rainwater catchment systems, and small community water supply systems throughout FSM.
  5. Develop an inventory of existing wastewater treatment facilities and corresponding excess sludge handling practices in the FSM; summarize related health and environmental issues in this field along with currently known plans for facility upgrades, and itemize suggestions for corrective actions and potential targets for subsequent feasibility studies.

Modeling Issues:

Definition: Research aimed at developing means of predicting the fate and transport of contaminants in FSM’s freshwater systems.

  1. Model future impact of climate change on rainfall distribution and abundance in FSM.
  2. Extend the modeling studies recently completed for the Nanpil River and Senipehn Rivers, connecting rainfall variability and sediment production, to other major river systems in FSM.
  3. Generate temporal and spatial datasets for understanding and predicting the nature and extent of watershed discharge to nearshore waters, particularly those where ongoing community-based management activities exist.

Regulatory/ Management Issues:

Definition: Research to investigate the need for new regulations and the effectiveness of existing regulations that deal with FSM’s freshwater quality issues.

  1. Develop a community based watershed management programs to improve water quality of community water systems in FSM.
  2. Develop a collaborative mechanism between Pohnpei CSP, PUC and EPA that focuses on watershed sustainability. Currently PUC only manages the service they provide their customers and pay little to no attention to the well being of the watershed from which the source water is taken.
  3. Develop best management practices for local water bottling companies and community water systems in the FSM.

Development of or Application of New Technologies to Water Quality Issues:

Definition: Studies to investigate the development of, or application of, new technologies to improve water quality such as:

  1. Explore the use of aerobic septic tank processes to improve leachate quality and possibly reduce sewage treatment plant outflows.
  2. Undertake a pilot study designed to improve local village water systems in FSM.
  3. Development of safe, inexpensive, solar sterilization techniques and improved and manageable desalination units.
  4. Develop and implement novel bioengineering methods and techniques to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff and sedimentation on the biodiversity of coastal marine ecosystems.
  5. Undertake innovative technology research to mitigate negative impacts of ocean outfall sewage disposal systems in FSM.
  6. Develop innovative pig waste disposal systems that emphasize ‘value added’ benefits (e.g. methane gas collection and use).

II. Water Quantity Projects

Definition: Research aimed at gaining a better understanding of the availability, deliverability and sustainability of FSM's surface water, groundwater and rainwater resources.

  1. Evaluate the affects of newly constructed PUC wells on groundwater levels and surface water availability in FSM.
  2. Extend studies currently underway to determine stream flow variability, rainfall runoff characteristics and sediment production in the Nanepil River, to other major rivers in FSM.
  3. Review existing FSM regulations concerning surface and groundwater rights and make recommendations as to the adequacy of existing legislation and need for future legislation.
  4. Continue the development of appropriate groundwater management plans for low and high islands throughout the FSM.
  5. Evaluate water rights issues that currently serve as stumbling blocks to adequate drinking water supply development throughout FSM.
  6. Initiate a broad-based groundwater inventory study of the high islands of FSM.
  7. Develop and refine new and existing water system distribution models for Weno, and Pohnpei Island, to determine the required source water, system capacity, storage, and system operation to provide 24-hour water service to consumers.
  8. Examine the effects of long-term climate change on the water supplies of the islands in the FSM.
  9. Investigate the use of individual or small community solar desalinization to provide alternative sources of freshwater during drought conditions.
  10. Baseline studies to determine surface water, groundwater and rain catchment water consumption rates in Yap State.
  11. Model water distribution systems in FSM in order to facilitate the detection, quantification and repair of water leaks.
  12. Impact of the recently constructed drinking water wells in Palikir, Pohnpei on adjacent stream flow and sustainable pumping rates of nearby wells. Such studies should include the development of test guidelines to accurately predict the impact of further well construction on surface water availability.
  13. Conduct feasibility studies for the construction of small-scale hydropower plants in high islands of the FSM to supplement existing fossil fuel dependant power plants.
  14. Stream flow measurements (and water quality parameters) for surface waters utilized for drinking water supplies.
  15. Development of community water sources using low-tech slow sand filtration techniques for water purification purposes in FSM .
  16. Conduct a study to determine: a) seasonal changes in groundwater availability in cultivated taro patches in the FSM and b) the impact of these activities on water table fluctuations in adjacent water wells .
  17. Continued collections, storage and assessment of rainfall data from the Nahna Laud rain gage system in Pohnpei, FSM.
  18. Develop improved rainfall distribution maps for the FSM.
  19. Develop models of demand, use, and management of water resources on main islands of the FSM including the creation of a GIS data-base
  20. Studies of water-use and appropriate resource management strategies for atoll islands using existing models and other newly-available tools, along with existing and new field data

III. Education And Professional Training

Definition: Projects that lead to the public’s better understanding of water resources issues to include water resources training courses and workshops for k-12 students and teachers, the general public and island water resource managers and decision makers.

  1. Teacher training on island water resources topics in cooperation with College of Micronesia and FSM and State Departments of Education. This training should be timed to coincide with training programs sponsored by the FSM and State Departments of Education .
  2. Training in GIS applications in soil erosion and watershed management .
  3. Continue to develop and refine educational materials for schools, youth groups and the general public on all relevant aspects of environmental stewardship related to the management, preservation and protection of water resources (including waste disposal problems and solutions e.g., portable pig-pens, aerobic septic system) in the FSM. Such materials should perhaps also include information on rainwater harvesting techniques and career opportunities for students seeking professions in the water resources/environmental science arena .
  4. Design and conduct an education campaign that explains why water users in Kosrae should pay for their public water supply .
  5. Continue ‘Atolls Groundwater Modeling workshops in all FSM States with atoll islands .
  6. Training in basis physical, chemical and biological water quality parameters .
  7. Conduct leak detection and GIS training workshops .
  8. Conduct water and wastewater system operator training programs for the FSM.

All education and training programs should be followed with an assessment of what actions and or additional training might be required of local agencies in order to continue improvements to the water supply systems

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