Water supply of two schools tests positive for E.coli on Waiheke Island

Both schools on Waiheke Island draw water from the same bore.
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Both schools on Waiheke Island draw water from the same bore.

Children at two schools on Auckland's Waiheke Island have been banned from drinking school water after it was found unsafe.

The schools, Te Huruhi School - a primary school, and Waiheke High School tested positive for E.coli this week.

Both draw water from the same bore but Te Huruhi has an additional roof collection system and is understood to have been the first of the two to test positive for E.coli.

Te Huruhi school asked parents to continue sendtheir children to school with drinking bottles on May 17 and had their filtration system inspected after "questionable water test results".

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"We will let you know when the water is once again safe for consumption."

On May 18 the principal of Te Huruhi, Adam Cells, sent an email to parents saying the school had emptied their water tanks on May 17 to investigate whether something in the tank had caused the test result.

"Nothing was found."

Jude Young, principal of Waiheke High School, said E.coli had "popped up" during a regular test of their school's water supply on May 17 and was confident a test scheduled for Friday would show the water was free of E.coli. 

"There need to be three clear tests so we should be okay by the middle of next week."

Young said the UV filtration system had needed replacing and she suggested that as a potential reason for the bad test result.

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"Two weeks ago, we were clear, according to the regular testing programme."

The prospect of E.coli in a water bore will undoubtedly stoke fears among Waiheke parents and residents of a Havelock North-type water crisis at the school and on the island.

Havelock North residents faced a major public health crisis after an aquifer providing water to the town became contaminated by bacteria late last year. 

More than 5300 people fell ill and three are thought to have died as a result of campylobacter entering the Havelock North water supply.

In April, residents of Lower Hutt were surprised by test results which showed E.coli in the water supply. Their first positive test for the bacteria since 1991.

And Buller's Marrs Beach on the West Coast was twice found to have unacceptable levels of E.coli since December of last year. 

As of April, five out of eight of Buller district's drinking water supplies were found to not meet national standards and had permanent or ongoing boil water notices. 

 - Stuff

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