2010-01-29: Hydro Field Testing at Sakea


The holidays are over and most of the family visitors have left. School started and things are returning to ‘normal’. This means we can get back to business with some of the ongoing projects. Papa and I haven’t heard back from any of the NGO’s we contacted last year regarding a proper feasibility study of the island’s hydro potential. Regardless, we are still surveying the known water sources so at least we can show them data before they arrive. Showing serious intent is the first step in convincing them the village is committed to contributing to the project and they aren’t just looking for another handout.

We walked to Sakea creek, which is in the interior of the island. This is the main creek that feeds the largest river. The problem is this creek flows away from the village and is quite a hike just to the headwaters. Papa brought along Joe and his hunting dogs in hopes to spot a wild pig on the way. Although the dogs didn’t pick up a trail during our hike it was good seeing them put to good use for once. They actually obeyed his commands and didn’t fight each other like rabid monkeys, which is typically their normal activities in the village.

I have learned no major trip is done on the island without a few secondary objectives. For example when we went to cut the wood for my paopao Papa also collected firewood, mature coconut nuts, and brought a few of his family members along to take back beddings from his house in the bush. On this trip Joe was hunting and stopped off at the end to weed his grog plantation.

When we arrived at the creek we walked along several points looking for a sign of good flow at a reasonably high elevation. Jim Kelly at Nakia Resort on Taveuni gave me information on hydro that states a good base of site conditions to start with on any hydro project are 10 litres per second of flow and 50 meters of head (fall from collection point to turbine). We found the head on our last trip but not near enough flow. Here, both were disappointing.

The trip wasn’t a complete waste, though, as we walked a bit further to the ‘red sands’ area in the middle of the island. As we approached the ground became thick with fern like vegetation and small trees that resembled franchipani with pine needles instead of leaves and flowers. We walked up a ridge and found a barren landscape of rolling red mounds. The hills were a mix between sand dunes and walls of dry creek beds. The sand was hard packed on the ridges and sides but loose and deep at the basins. It was somewhat eerie looking over the landscape at the lush vegetation and ocean beyond with the lifeless dirt mounds in the foreground. It was blazing hot so we didn’t stick around long and soon made our way back to the village via the coastline. Even though the hike was only 6 miles it was amazing to see the diversity in landscapes along the way.

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