Lessons to be taken from wa­ter saga

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - ERIN TASKER

Methven res­i­dents frus­trated by a de­lay in the Ash­bur­ton Dis­trict Coun­cil no­ti­fy­ing them of a need to boil wa­ter from their po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nated sup­ply hope lessons will be learned from the in­ci­dent.

The coun­cil has come un­der fire from both Methven res­i­dents and health of­fi­cials af­ter not send­ing out a boil wa­ter no­tice un­til the evening of June 30 in re­la­tion to a power out­age at a Methven wa­ter plant the pre­vi­ous night, mean­ing they were po­ten­tially ex­posed to in­ad­e­quately treated wa­ter for al­most 24 hours.

Methven House man­ager Elis­a­beth Hey­brook said she was no­ti­fied of the boil wa­ter no­tice by a staff mem­ber and was frus­trated be­cause rest homes were vul­ner­a­ble when it came to bugs. She felt no­tice should have been given ear­lier.

‘‘It’s not good and I’m in the process of in­form­ing the coun­cil that I wasn’t very im­pressed,’’ she said.

Methven Preschool co-man­ager Tr­ish Pow­ell was alerted via Face­book.

‘‘It would have been nice to have a call to say ‘we are hav­ing this is­sue with our wa­ter’. The main thing is that peo­ple would have liked to have been no­ti­fied ear­lier, even just as a pre­cau­tion, be­cause we could have then taken steps,’’ Pow­ell said.

Ash­bur­ton Dis­trict Coun­cil as­sets man­ager An­drew Guthrie said ad­vice from Com­mu­nity and Public Health (CPH) was to is­sue a pre­cau­tion­ary boil wa­ter no­tice if the wa­ter could not be proven clean and safe to drink, so test­ing was un­der­taken on the wa­ter sup­ply to de­ter­mine its qual­ity.

‘‘All of this was done in con­sul­ta­tion with the DWA (drink­ing wa­ter as­ses­sor), and, as there was no in­di­ca­tion of con­tam­i­na­tion, there was no need for ac­tions such as tankers or emer­gency treat­ment equip­ment be­cause the plant was fully op­er­a­tional.’’

Res­i­dents who de­vel­oped gas­tro symp­toms were ad­vised by health of­fi­cial to see their GP, but no cases had pre­sented.

‘‘This in­ci­dent has pre­sented coun­cil with the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress some key is­sues that have arisen as a re­sult, in­clud­ing in­ves­ti­gat­ing why the equip­ment fail­ure did not gen­er­ate an alarm to our con­trac­tor, as well as im­prov­ing our no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems in the fu­ture.’’

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