Hope for Ratana's 'filthy' tap water

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 26/06/2012

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Ratana residents are hopeful they might soon be able to drink their tap water if a council plea for funding wins Health Ministry approval.

Rangitikei District Council water services manager Colin Anderson said the council had applied for $1.2 million from the ministry's Healthy Homes programme to help clean up Ratana's water.

The council's bid for an upgrade to the town's groundwater treatment process would bring Ratana water up to New Zealand's drinking water standards.

"That would be a beauty" was the reaction from Ratana Community Board member Audrey Williams, who has lived in the town all her life.

Ms Williams said she never drank the Ratana water, which she called "filthy".

"It's dirty, real dirty," Ms Williams said.

"You can get the colour out but it really smells.

"Out of 10 I'd give it nought, but at least it's good for the toilet. It's only good for the toilet," she said.

A contracting firm reported Ratana had the worst groundwater problems it had seen, council meeting reports showed.

Most residents bought water filters, installed rainwater-catchment tanks, or paid for bottled water from Whanganui.

Ms Williams said about 115 properties in Ratana had opted to use tank water.

Some Ratana ratepayers were paying for water that was more hindrance than help, she said.

A residential Ratana property with a capital value of $90,000 would attract just over $2100 a year in rates, with $1425.19 covering sewerage, stormwater and reticulated water.

Residents who used water tanks did not have to pay the $745.56 in fees for tap water, district council staff said.

However, Ms Williams said the water's high metal content rusted toilets, sinks, filters and taps and caused unpleasant discolouration, attracting even more repair costs.

She said residents had been waiting a long time for the council to do something about the state of their water.

"But they reasoned it's too expensive, that they have to dig down too deep to find it [clean water]," she said.

Mr Anderson said Ratana's water issues were reflected across the Rangitikei District, as groundsoil was largely made up of clay, which was not free draining and caused issues for the purity of groundwater supplies.

He said he hoped the application to the ministry, made in February, could be rubber-stamped within the next month.

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- Manawatu Standard

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