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Computer error leaves town … High and dry

Computer trouble with Eketahuna’s water supply left the town’s taps dry, forcing the local school to close.
The town is no stranger to water woes and has recently had upgrades to its treatment plant, however a computer error yesterday meant the town couldn’t turn on taps or flush down toilets.
Tararua district council chief executive Bryan Nicholson said the problem came from the reservoir’s supervisory control and data acquisition [SCADA] system.
“It said the reserve was full … it wasn’t. The whole system was drained dry.”
The system is used by councils throughout New Zealand and allows technicians to monitor water throughout a distribution system.
The problem affected all properties connected to Eketahuna’s main supply.
Due to the issue, Eketahuna School was forced to shut its doors. Hautu [leader] Te Tain Runga [South] at Ministry of Education [MoE] Nancy Bell said the principal of the school informed MoE in the morning that there was no running water in the school.
“This means there isn’t drinking water and bathrooms were unable to be used.
“Because of this, the board made the decision to close the school site for the day while water was restored to the town.”
There are 107 students enrolled at the school, and 17 staff.
Nicholson agreed that it was the right decision.
“The school knew before they opened so didn’t open at all for the day.
“It was the right decision from a sanitary and health perspective.
Although the town has had a number of water problems in the past, Nicholson said that, as far as he was aware, it was the first time this had happened.
“We want to ensure we can trust our systems and further investigations are needed to prevent this from happening again.”
“Bottled water was delivered to the cafes in town to allow them to keep running their businesses.
“The school was one of the first to know and they closed – the toilets being the main concern.”
Bottled water was also available for residents at the library and information centre
Nicholson said that once the issue was dealt with, the tank had to refill to bring the water pressure back to normal.
“We got an alert at 5am and we had staff out there just after 5.30am. All water was back up and running by 11am. Staff rectified the issues, it just took time for treated water to get back into the system.”

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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