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Water notices ‘absolutely frustrating’

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A precautionary boil water notice has been issued for Eketahuna due to turbidity levels from Makakahi River being higher than the water treatment plant can treat to meet drinking water standards.

The notice was issued yesterday. The high turbidity level was caused by heavy rain.

There have been eight precautionary boil water notices for Eketahuna in the past 12 months.

None of the previous seven notices resulted in any e-coli detection.

“No e-coli has been detected in Eketahuna’s water supply but we cannot guarantee the complete disinfection of contaminants,” a spokesperson for Tararua District Council [TDC] said.

“Taumata Arowai have been notified and the team will continue to monitor water treatment so the three days of testing can start as soon as possible.”

Drinking water standards required three consecutive days of clear water tests once turbidity levels had reduced before the boil water notice could be lifted.

Residents were advised to boil water if using it for drinking, making ice, food preparation, brushing teeth and preparing baby formula.


Upgrade work to Eketahuna’s water treatment plant was expected to be completed by July. It was hoped the work would reduce the risk of future boil water notices being needed.

The improvements would provide additional filtration of the water, enabling more effective treatment when heavy rainfall impacted the river source.

Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis called the situation “absolutely frustrating”.

“I’m an Eketahuna resident and I find it frustrating when we have to consistently be boiling water.

“I am going to the community board on Monday to get the work done.”

It is hoped that outside of an extreme weather event, the upgrades would stop the regular boil water notices.

“These water treatment plant upgrades will have the capability to treat more turbid water, which reduces the risk of future precautionary boil water notices having to be issued,” Collis said.

“Managing water demand will remain a priority.

“Since the Havelock North water contamination incident in 2016, there is an increasing focus on the application of NZ drinking water standards.

“Improving our water treatment plants is a key priority for council, to achieve these standards. The end result of these upgrades will be safer and more reliable drinking water, with reduced risk of precautionary boil water notices as a result of weather events.”

A spokesperson for TDC said that although construction was delayed, a mid-2022 completion date was expected.

“In November last year, the initial design for the Eketahuna water treatment plant upgrade was amended to further improve the plant’s ability to manage turbid source water during rain events.

“These events have resulted in several precautionary boil water notices being issued over recent years.

“A significant increase in scope was required and the associated design, review and approval processes have delayed construction works beginning. Subsequent shortages of some materials have caused further delays and, whilst construction has now started, completion has been pushed out to mid this year.”

Collis said that when the work was completed, she hoped to invite people down to the treatment plant to get a look inside and see where the money had been spent.

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