Algae in water too hard to swallow

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 21/11/2012

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A Dannevirke couple are distressed at the state of their drinking water after they discovered "something furry" floating in it, but council says it's still safe to drink.

Moala and Daryl Withey first noticed the watery intruder, which they later learned was algae, coming from taps in their Gordon St home on Sunday night.

Mrs Withey said as soon as she saw the "furry fibrey things" in the water supply, she stopped her husband and two children from drinking it and bought 15 litres of bottled water instead.

"I hate seeing lumps in the water, that's a concern, full stop, and then I just think is it safe to drink?

"There's no way I would drink anything like that," she said.

The couple called a plumber to have a look and then contacted the Tararua District Council with a sample.

Mrs Withey said the algae, which had a slimy consistency, started off brown before disintegrating into a faded pale yellow.

"We live in a decent, clean country, so you don't expect to have weird things pop up in your drinking water like this."

The family have lived in Palmerston North, Ashhurst and Sydney and said this was the first time they had seen this and were worried it was making people sick.

"It was pretty gross," Mr Withey said. "There has been a few tummy bugs around town recently, which just makes you think, I wonder if it came from that. I'm not saying it's the cause of it, but I wouldn't be surprised."

Dannevirke plumber Pete Wallace, who checked the Witheys' water, said the "bleary, kind of sporey stuff" he found concerned him.

"I don't know the theory behind it, but there is certainly algae in the drinking water, and a fair amount of it. It's a bit creepy."

He thought it may have been caused by rusty pipes, but after ringing around town and consulting the Witheys' neighbours he discovered that the algae wasn't an isolated incident. Tararua District Council utilities manager Dave Watson said the town's water was fine to drink, there were no health risks and the algae's appearance was caused by unusual weather conditions.

"It's just a minor defect that we're taking charge of and we followed it up pretty quickly, because we don't expect things like this to happen.

"It's not a major disaster, it's only a slight hiccup in the system."

To fix it, Mr Watson said one of the town's reservoirs would be bypassed and the water reticulation system would be flushed regularly over the next few days.

Mrs Withey was happy to hear this, but wished she had been contacted. "No-one said anything beforehand, in fact they never seem to tell people if there is something going wrong with the water.

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"You find out by just turning on a tap and finding stuff floating in there, then you have to contact them and I think that's a little bit backwards."

- Manawatu Standard

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