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Lessons to tap into

The bore heads are above ground, sealed and surrounded by a fence to prevent stock entering the site. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

Carterton is trying to learn from mistakes that led to the water contamination in Havelock North last year.

Findings from the government’s inquiry was to be discussed today at Carterton District Council’s (CDC) Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting.

The gastro outbreak that occurred in Havelock North left more than 5000 people ill with campylobacteriosis and was linked to three deaths.

One of the key findings of the investigation was that sheep faeces were the likely source of the contamination, and that heavy rain pushed contaminated water into a pond where it flowed across to a Brookvale Rd bore 90 metres away.

The inquiry has flagged poor bore security, a poor working relationship between the district and regional councils, and not properly monitoring bores, as key failures.

They are lessons CDC does not want to fall on deaf ears.

Carterton’s Lincoln Rd bores are vital to the town as its only supplementary water system.

The creation of the bores was often praised by councillors as a move from their predecessors that showed great foresight.

The Lincoln Rd bores have ticked all the boxes for drinking water standards in a recent report by Opus Consultants.

The report made note that the bores are “sealed at the surface to prevent the ingress of surface water and contaminants” and that “animals are excluded from within five metres of each bore head”.

Carterton District Council operations manager Garry Baker was pleased with current operations and said he had “conscientious, reliable staff”.

He also said they had a good working relationship with the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

“We are very happy at the moment but we still can’t be complacent.

“When you’re complacent that’s when things happen.”

The contamination at Havelock North was something everyone must learn from, he said.

A water safety report compiled by Jim Graham in January this year made two recommendations for Carterton.

A five-year window was given to address them, but Mr Baker said these had already been taken care of.

He said CDC chief executive Jane Davis did not want to see them drag over five years instead preferring they “deal with these problems straight away”.

All Carterton’s drinking water undergoes UV light treatment plus chlorination, which would “zap” E. coli before it entered the system, he said.

“We test for that once a week anyway.”

Mr Baker said they were currently working on pre-prepared emergency notices so that if there was ever a problem they could alert the public quickly.

“Hopefully we will never have to use it.”

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