Council to review its water testing

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Contamination of Hawkes Bay drinking water has led to the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) deciding to review its water testing and advisory systems.
Chief engineer Ulrich Glasner said five of the district’s community reticulation systems managed by the council, Arthur’s Point, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Lake Hawea and Luggate, were not chlorinated.
Supplies at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp, Corebridge bore and Wanaka Airport were also unchlorinated, Mr Glasner said by email this week. However, they were tested three times weekly to ensure water met New Zealand drinking water standards.
Last week, concerns were posted on social media that stomach bugs plaguing some Hawea residents might have been caused by contaminated water.
When contacted by The News, resident Leah Wheeler said she was confident problems suffered by members of her family were not due to the water.
‘‘I also support Lake Hawea’s water remaining unchlorinated,’’ she said.
At the time, QLDC communications manager Michele Poole responded to Facebook posts, saying residents would be alerted via a variety of means including text messages and letterbox drops if there was any contamination detected in water supplies.
Hawea’s water had been tested at seven different points over three consecutive days and given the all-clear, she said.
Chlorinated supplies were tested regularly and were equipped with automated alarms.
Mr Glasner said nonchlorinated water supplies were routinely tested three times a week.
The council had not had any queries about the safety of water supplies after the Hawkes Bay contamination.
‘‘In any case, we are reviewing our processes, testing and advisory systems in the light of events in Havelock North,’’ he said.
In January, Lake Hawea’s water supply was treated with chlorine after E. coli was found.
This week Mr Glasner said a dead possum in the reservoir had been confirmed as the source of the contamination.
The village water supply has been subject to UV treatment only since it was installed by the Vincent County Council in the late 1980s and since then residents have been adamant they do not want the supply permanently chlorinated.
‘‘The council has never carried out permanent chlorination of the Hawea supply. We chlorinate on a temporary basis if testing shows the presence of bacteria in breach of the drinking water standards,’’ he said.
The authority recommended all systems be chlorine-treated by the council ‘‘in principle’’.
‘‘However, we must also take the wishes of the local community into account.
‘‘In March we attended a community meeting in Hawea to discuss the water supply and reiterated the recommendation for permanent chlorination as the most reliable method of meeting drinking water standards.
‘‘With one exception, all residents at the meeting said it was not their wish to have their water chlorinated.
‘‘The council is ready to resume that discussion with the community if that is the wish of residents,’’ Mr Glasner said.