Water upgrade plea fails to make impact

Tokomaru's water woes streamed through Parliament as a community representative and the Horowhenua District Council lobbied central Government for assistance.

In submissions to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, Tokomaru resident Christine Toms and council chief executive David Clapperton both requested the Government step in and fund water treatment upgrades.

Last year Mrs Toms collected 56 signatures highlighting the town's unhappiness with its permanent boil-water notice, and E and D-grade water.

An extra 100 signatures were also estimated to have been collected but two pages of the petition were stolen.

Mrs Toms said in her submission on Thursday that people she knew in the area were contracting illnesses from the water.

"The existing ‘toss a tin of chlorine in' remains the only solution for the untreated river supply, ignoring dangerous protozoa, viruses, DCAs and forestry run-off," she said.

In a submission by the Horowhenua District Council, Mayor Brendan Duffy said the council agrees with many of the points made by Mrs Toms in her petition.

"We support the petitioners' wish that central government assists the district by providing supplementary funding for an upgrade of the water supply," he said. "However, [the] council takes issue with any suggestion that it lacks the will to make improvements."

Mr Duffy said in the submission "for our district, which has a limited rating base, it is the affordability of water upgrades that presents the challenge".

"The lowest risk plant in the district is Tokomaru . . . the water meets bacterial standards but does not meet protozoan standards," he said.

Select committee chairwoman Nicky Wagner said the council chief executive acknowledged the issues in Tokomaru in his verbal submission.

"They understand the quality of the water is not as good as the people would like," she said.

"A boiling water notice shouldn't be used as a precaution and that's what it's being used for.

"In other words, the notice has been wrongly put on the water supply in Tokomaru."

Ms Wagner said Tokomaru doesn't meet the deprivation index to qualify for the Government's drinking water subsidy, it rates as 6.5 and needs to be 7.

However, new census data could change this and she recommended Mrs Toms wait until the information is available.

She also recommended Mrs Toms work with the council and health officials on documenting illnesses caused by drinking water.

"These are always very difficult things, this is not an uncommon situation in communities right across the country, so it would be very difficult to argue for a variation when there is a system in place for subsidy," she said.

Manawatu Standard