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Water safe, council declares

Infrastructure, planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings at the Kaipatangata Stream. PHOTO/FILE

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A report outlining several areas of non-compliant drinking water standards in Carterton appears to be a storm in a teacup full of perfectly safe drinking water.

The October report by the drinking water assessor from the Central North Island Drinking Water Assessment Unit showed non-compliance from Carterton District Council for the year to June 30 in bacterial, protozoa and chemical levels.

But the council says most of the issues arose from a miscommunication regarding testing methods and frequency, with its officers stating residents were never in danger of drinking unsafe water.

Bacterial non-compliance was noted for three days in February 2018 but infrastructure, planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings said that was the result of a failure in the instrument recording the data.

The loss of data did not alter the operational filtering, UV and chlorine dosing to the town’s drinking water supply.

“We were still doing everything, it was just the recording which failed,” he said.

“They can’t see we passed because there’s no data to show it, so we failed.”.

At the time of the report, the assessor ruled there was insufficient evidence showing the UV system was adequate in dealing with protozoa, which resulted in another non-compliance.

However, validation certificates have since been presented and confirmation that the UV system is adequate has been confirmed by phone.

The only instances where water was affected were at the Kaipatangata and Frederick St water treatment plants, when a pH level above eight was recorded.

Both were caused by a faulty dosage pump, affecting users for only “a matter of hours”.

“There was never any risk from protozoa,” Gittings said.

“It was just the pH level, so the water would have tasted a bit funny.”

Despite the reports’ findings, Gittings said these types of audits were good and helped the council identify any areas of improvement from a set of “fresh eyes”.

The report issued to the council coincides with an announcement made on Tuesday by Minister of Health David Clark, of changes to Drinking Water Standards from March 1, 2019.

This will have an improvement in the ability to test and respond to the presence of harmful bacteria such as E.coli.

The two changes will require water suppliers to routinely monitor the total amount of coliform bacteria in water and change the way bacteria numbers are tested to allow quicker identification of E.coli and other coliform bacteria.

Gittings said that although the changes were not clear yet the council welcomed any form of stringent testing as safe drinking water was vital.

“We are more than willing to do any form of testing.

“I think we do a good job – we are striving to do the best we can and put a high priority on having safe water.”

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