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Te Karaka to consider drinking water options

27 Sep 2011

Te Karaka to consider drinking water options

News that the Ministry of Health has granted a $387,780 subsidy to assist improving Te Karaka’s drinking water has been well received but will not be used until Te Karaka residents have considered all the options.

Gisborne District Council has looked into the feasibility of upgrading Te Karaka’s very basic water treatment plant.  A risk assessment of the drinking water supply and a plan to mitigate these risks was done as part of the grant application. The costed plan and other options will be discussed with the community first before any decisions are made.

The grant is only approved for the upgrade of water treatment says Council water utilities manager Kevin Strongman. “It will not put any pipes in the ground. That is why it is important we go back to the community and be sure about what they want.”

“We haven’t consulted with Te Karaka people yet as without the grant we couldn’t have a meaningful conversation about realistic options. The community could not afford to do anything without this grant. Affordability is still an issue here. There are 162 households in the area. The grant will cover 79% of the upgrade but there will still be a shortfall in the capital costs and ongoing operational costs. It is up to the community to consider all options and state what their preference is.”

“It is important to remember that the current water quality is not bad. It does not pose any immediate health risks and residents are not complaining about the quality of their water. Water is supplied from a shallow bore adjacent to the Waipaoa River, filtered and chlorinated. This is used to supplement residents own rainwater from their roofs.”

“We are looking at water quality now because the goal posts have moved. What used to be acceptable is no longer okay.” The Drinking Water Amendment Act 2007 put much higher standards in place and recommended timelines when improvements should be completed by.

Upgrading the water treatment would result in higher quality, clearer drinking water for Te Karaka residents. It would also allow for better monitoring of water quality and more efficient operation of this water supply. The Ministry of Health are keen to make sure they are managing any risks to public health. This is not so easy to do with the capability of the current system. The equipment used to filter and chlorinate is inefficient, making monitoring difficult.

Consultation is likely to take place early next year.