Pacific RISA Research Fellow Laura Brewington and Project Assistant Krista Jaspers recently attended the “Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought” workshop in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The workshop was held on July 17 and 18, 2014 at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center, which houses the visitor’s center for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is conducting a series of activities to enhance scientific and technical capacity to support climate change adaptation in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). These activities include the development and delivery of new or enhanced products and services that focus on climate issues critical to the region and respond to unique user needs. Preserving freshwater resources and minimizing the impacts of drought has been identified as an issue of concern.
Workshop participants included community freshwater managers and planners, decision makers, and climate experts from American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. They represented local utilities American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), the National Weather Service, Meteorological Service experts, and local and regional resource and environment agencies (SPREP, etc). Using a climate scenario dialog framework, participants conducted interactive climate stories that contributed to the exploration of future best practices to preserve freshwater resources and minimize the impacts of drought, with an emphasis on the upcoming ENSO event. A key point raised was the need for improvement in inter-agency cooperation and communication to raise awareness of the state of knowledge of climate science, impacts, and adaptation and available climate and weather service products and services to support climate adaptation planning, disaster risk management, and “win-win” strategies for freshwater management.
At the workshop, Dr. Brewington presented the initial results of a study led by Pacific RISA Project Specialist Richard Wallsgrove on the Climate Adaptivity of Freshwater Regulations in American Samoa. The presentation evaluated the effectiveness of American Samoa’s adaptive policies and planning tools next to the criteria of being forward-looking, adaptive, integrated, and iterative. It also suggested 9 opportunities in which adaptive capacity could be improved in American Samoa. Also during the workshop, Chris Schuler, University of Hawaii graduate student, described the status of a groundwater model for the island of Tutuila being developed at the UH Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). The potential applications of the groundwater model include sustainable yield estimates, well-siting and future development, contamination potential, and climate change adaptation. Other presentations by the Fiji and Samoa Meteorological Services, SPREP, NWS, and ASPA contributed greatly to the enrichment of the climate scenario dialog.
Through the collaborative efforts of the workshop participants, local knowledge was combined with specialist technical advice to identify accurate, timely and regionally-relevant content that helps to preserve fresh water resources and minimize the impacts of drought. As a result of the dialogue, the user community is better informed about the current state of knowledge of climate variability and its impacts, and the provider community is better informed about what problems and questions are most relevant and better able to match products and services to user requirements. Click here for more information on the Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS) Drought Dashboard.