Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researcher Evelyn Ikelau Otto, Director of Research Geraldine Rengiil and CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu met with staff and board members from Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) and Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) to discuss research conducted at the sewer outfall.
The meeting took place on September 21, 2018, at the PICRC Board Room. Discussions during the meeting was focused on using the results from the Center’s research at the sewer outfall to meet EQPB requirements and guide the installation of the new sewer outfall.
As part of her Master’s research, Ms. Otto studied the effects of the treated sewage outflow on the photosynthetic rates and growth of corals in the sewer outfall area. She was interested in how increased nutrient levels, light availability, and particulate matter resulting from the outflow affected the corals in the area. She conducted experiments in the lab and at the sewage outflow site in Malakal Bay in order to answer her questions. Her presentation at the 2nd National Environment Symposium sparked interest in PPUC and EQPB, which prompted this meeting to discuss how the information can be used to help with the installation of the new sewage system.
The research conducted by Ms. Otto was performed under the Palau Coral Reef Island Ecosystem (P-CoRIE) Project, a collaboration with the University of the Ryukyus and funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) as part of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREP) Program. This comprehensive study can be used as a baseline to determine changes to the coral reef communities around the sewer outfall site when the new system goes into operation. From initial quotes obtained to conduct similar work using off-island consultants would have cost PPUC over $100,000.
In the meeting, PICRC recommended that PPUC and EQPB consider a long-term monitoring program at the sewage outflow site to ensure that any negative impacts in the future can be detected and mitigated. PICRC will continue to work with PPUC and EQPB to provide necessary information that will assist them in their plans on the new sewer system. (PR)