Boil water notices plague the West Coast

The tourism hotspot Punakaiki is under an ongoing boil water notice.
GILES BROWN/FAIRFAX NZ

The tourism hotspot Punakaiki is under an ongoing boil water notice.

West Coasters who live under permanent boil water notices are angry their councils would allow the export of fresh water from the region. 

Five out of eight of the Buller district's drinking water supplies do not meet national standards and have permanent or ongoing boil water notices. 

John Buchanan, who lives in Waimangaroa, a small village just north of Westport, said the council had a boil water notice on his water supply for about four years. 

Waimangaroa is on a permanent boil water notice.
Sheree Cargill

Waimangaroa is on a permanent boil water notice.

He said it was ridiculous that councils on the West Coast would allow a private company "to pump free water to tankers and sell it at a profit to the thirsty of the world while the majority of smaller towns and settlements in the Buller District are having to boil water".

READ MORE: 
Rivers of gold - Behind plans to sell water from the mountains
* Westport resident complains about worst water in New Zealand

Okuru Enterprises has consent from the West Coast Regional Council to take and export up to 800 million litres of water per month from a pristine creek in South Westland. It also has Westland District Council consent to build a pipeline and storage facility. 

Buller mayor Garry Howard.
Joanne Carroll

Buller mayor Garry Howard.

Buller Mayor Garry Howard is a shareholder in the company, having owned 2750 shares in Okuru since 1992. He said he had declared them with the council's register of interests and the Buller District Council was not responsible for granting any consents for the project. 

Buchanan said it was shameful that some of the West Coast's water supplies were unable to meet acceptable drinking water standards.

"I do note that the town of Westport is not, as yet, subject to a boil water notice, as anybody who has tasted Westport water would appreciate that no self-respecting bacteria or germ could survive in the chemical mess that supposedly masquerades as drinking water.

"How much longer do the ratepayers of the Buller have to tolerate this third-world water while our council spends money on walking and cycling tracks that can be ill-afforded?" he said.

Ad Feedback

The Waimangaroa water intake collapsed about three years ago in a storm and had not been replaced.

"Where they're wanting to put a bore down, they're going to be taking risk of contamination from everybody's septic tank. It's going to cost a lot of money and we only have 100 ratepayers here," he said. 

Punakaiki business owner Patrick Volk said the water in the coastal village was "horrible".

"The council keep promising for almost three years to get the water sorted. They said in the annual plan that water would be the biggest priority. Of course we hear how Punakaiki is the jewel in the crown for the West Coast and tourists don't have pure water to drink," he said.

He had to have 10 kettles boiling so his backpacker guests could have water to drink.

"It's crazy. Tourism is growing on the Coast but we need to provide clean water. The tourists think we are New Zealand clean and green and they are really surprised when I tell them 70 per cent of the year you have to boil the water. It's just ridiculous. It's just not on," he said. 

Buller District Council assets and infrastructure manager Mike Duff said the water contamination in Havelock North in 2016 highlighted the risks and consequences of getting water supplies wrong.  

"We will be working hard over this coming year to reduce amber and red alerts for all of the supplies council are responsible for," he said. 

He hoped the Waimangaroa supply would be upgraded by early 2018. 

Since his appointment in November, he has reviewed and provided councillors with an update on all the district's water supplies, including plans for upgrades. 

The Hector/Ngakawau, Little Wanganui, Mokihinui, and Waimangaroa did not meet standards, were untreated and had permanent boil water notices. 

The review found Punakaiki's overall performance was poor, and an ongoing boil water notice was in place. It had inadequate filtration, and bacterial and protozoal counts had exceeded thresholds. Protozoal are parasites that cause diseases such as giardiasis.

The council aimed to have a new filter installed in Punakaiki by May. A plan to upgrade the Ngakawau scheme was opposed by the community in a 2016 vote. The  Ngakawau-Hector Water Society is opposed to the upgrade because it claims it owns the water scheme. 

Howard said the council was responsible for all water supplies and was in discussions with the society to reach an agreement over ownership and the upgrade. 

He said Duff's review of the water supplies was "well overdue". The council was working towards meeting its responsibility to provide clean drinking water and had accessed government subsidies for upgrades. 

He was concerned about the West Coast's reputation as a clean, green destination.

"It's a New Zealand-wide reputational issue. So many rural communities around the country have exactly the same issues. Tourists need to be aware they can't make assumptions that the water is meeting Ministry of Health standards. It is of concern and that's why we need to work towards meeting our responsibilities," he said. 

The Grey district had four boil water notices in the year to April 12. Taylorville and Runanga both had positive E coli tests, but the two Blackball notices were due to heavy rain, council assets manager Mel Sutherland said. 

The Westland district also had boil water notices for the Whataroa, Arahura and Kumara water supplies in January and February. 

Tourism group Advance Northern West Coast chairman Geoff Schurr said it was "crazy" that he could drink from the rivers on the West Coast but not the taps. 

"Our council is trying to serve a massive area that requires huge infrastructure with only 8 per cent of that area is rateable. They don't get enough rates to pay for infrastructure. It's a massive issue that needs to be addressed at a Government level. I know the Government is looking at tourism taxes and different things they can do," he said. 

If the 500,000 people who visited Punakaiki's pancake rocks every year were charged $2, the village would be able to invest $1m a year back into clean drinking water, toilets and other services, he said. 

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Million dollar wind fall

The winning ticket in Wednesday night's $1 million draw was sold at Countdown Browns Bay on Auckland's North Shore.

Mid-week celebrations for a lucky Aucklander after Lotto win.

Children love the taniwha

Mahi Pai at Manukau Institute of Technology.

More than 1500 South Auckland youngsters were treated to the very popular Mahi Pai taniwha performance over Māori Language Week.

Wide Awake at Hawkins Theatre

Hawkins Theatre is staging the play Wide Awake.

An award winning children's play is hitting the stage in Papakura.

Counselling for crash witnesses

The car hit five students then crashed into a fence.

"Traumatised" witness saw children, bags and paper flying as car slammed into students near bus stop.

Wellington

Eli gains loyal, helpful friend video

Six-year-old Eli Burkhalter with  his new assistance dog Taffy.

Taffy the golden labrador is a welcome companion for six-year-old Waikanae boy.

Kids sick on synthetics

Synthetic drugs, often mixed with dried leaves resembling cannabis, have claimed at least 20 lives in New Zealand this ...

Youngest was just 5 as three Porirua kids taken to hospital severely ill.

SH1 blockage cleared

NZTA advised of delays on around the Paremata roundabout and Mana on State Highway 1 after a three-car crash at Plimmerton.

Minor delays continue after a two-car crash near Plimmerton.

Capital train strike likely

Capital commuters are likely to face disruptions as rail workers prepare to strike.

Disruptions ahead for Wellington rail commuters as employment dispute boils over.

Canterbury

'Bound together by cancer' video

Christchurch father of two  Kevin "Chalky" Carr received the news that his pancreatic cancer was back  and his prognosis ...

This time last week, cancer patient Chalky Carr had never met Isla Lunn. Now he's raising $100,000 for the 7-year-old.

Service 'horrific' video

Michelle Bishop is upset at the service received by funeral home Poppy Funerals following the death of her daughter ...

Woman calls for funeral industry to be regulated after ongoing problems following her daughter's death.

Who won the final debate? video

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Labour party leader Jacinda Ardern speaks during the TVNZ Vote 2017 2nd Leaders ...

Jacinda Ardern looked and sounded like a woman in a fight for her political life. And she is.

Bike theft at bottle-point

Two friends were robbed of their bikes at bottle-point near Papanui High School.

The two robbers fled on bikes stolen from men in Northcote, Christchurch.

Waikato

Seven daring ducklings rescued 

The rescue operation saw the safe retrieval of seven ducklings from a Whitianga drain.

It took half an hour to rescue the seven ducklings from the depths of the drain.

Cocaine, cash found

The armed offenders squad helped execute a search warrant in Te Aroha.

Seven searches in Te Aroha were undertaken netting cocaine, cash and five arrests in a pre-dawn raid.

Historic pub killing set for trial

Chris Bush was shot and killed in October 1987.

Two men to stand trial next year over the murder of pub manager Chris Bush 30 years ago.

Kiwis want water levy

Farmers protested perceived attacks from politicians in Morrinsville on Monday, September 18. A new survey shows the ...

The majority of Kiwis want to see farmers pay for water use, a new survey shows.

Taranaki

Ngā Manu Kōrero begins

Dr Ruakere Hond addressed the manuhiri (visitors).

Students from 52 schools across Aotearoa have arrived in New Plymouth for a speech competition.

Principal search

Lynda Stuart, president of the NZEI, said there are ore principal vacancies than usual.

Four schools are looking for principals, and another four are looking for deputies and assistants.

The 'hero' in the beauty aisle

Shane White's training kicked into action as soon as he got to the man who collapsed in the beauty aisle.

Ian Foreman collapsed in a New Plymouth supermarket only for the produce manager to save his life.

Truck rolls, spills load of urea

A truck rolled on Opunake Rd, spilling urea, and blocking the area to traffic.

Truck and trailer unit rolls and spills load.

Manawatu

The final debate video

From left, Greens candidate Thomas Nash, NZ First MP Darroch Ball, National candidate Adrienne Pearce, Money Free Party ...

Palmerston North candidates battle over mental health and Manawatū Gorge at final debate.

MP flees farmers

Labour candidate for Palmerston North Iain Lees-Galloway left a farmer meeting about irrigation tax early.

Labour MP claims he was "physically pushed" and his van rammed.

Suspected armed robbery at BP

The BP service station in Main St, Palmerston North, has had another suspected aggravated robbery.

Two people are believed to have carried weapons into a BP and robbed it in Palmerston North.

Debate strikes useful balance

The Manawatu Standard candidates debate was broadcast live on Facebook.

OPINION: Election campaign meeting mixes information with humour and differences.

Nelson

'What's a candidate?' video

Birchwood School students from left Jacob 8, Talei 9, Mia 8, talk to Stuff about their thoughts on the election and politics.

They can't legally vote until 2029, but they still have strong views on the election.

Earthquake jolts NZ

The quake was centred 30 kilometres northeast of Seddon.

Central New Zealand jolted by a short and sharp earthquake.

Power back on

A power outage on Wednesday afternoon has affected residents in Richmond, Brightwater, Wakefield and Mapua.

Power has been restored to 12,000 homes and businesses after a Transpower fault. 

Kea shooter sentenced

A man's been sentenced to 200 hours community work for killing a kea.

A man who shot at kea who were damaging his property has been sentenced to community work.

Marlborough

Dinner's in the bag

Sous chef Emily Hulburt, 5, helps out in the kitchen preparing a 'My Food Bag' recipe.

By her own admission, reporter Paula Hulburt is a whizz with a microwave. As the first delivery of My Food Bags arrive in Blenheim, she took one for a test drive.

Earthquake jolts NZ

The quake was centred 30 kilometres northeast of Seddon.

Central New Zealand jolted by a short and sharp earthquake.

Cafe confrontation

Prime Minister Bill English stopped in at BV Gourmet in Blenheim on the campaign trail on Tuesday. (File photo)

PM's coffee break gatecrashed as Labour candidate accuses National supporters of ripping down billboards.

Weather closes newly-fixed rail line

The Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch has been closed due to bad weather, just days after its post-quake ...

Just a single train managed to traverse the newly-repaired rail line from Christchurch to Picton before bad weather closed it again.

South Canterbury

Men's health focus of campaign

Jonty Penney from Timaru is participating in the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise funds for men,s health.

Two Timaru men are taking the health message on the road.

Flow-on concerns

David Hurst, from A J Engineering in Washdyke, is concerned about the impact of the water levy.

S Canty businesses concerned about impact of Labour's water levy, spokesman says concerns unjustified.

New Mackenzie CEO

New Mackenzie council chief executive Suzette van
Aswegen.

A current staff member will take on the top job at the Mackenzie District Council.

'He's a hero,' neighbour says

The remains of the Waipopo property on Wednesday afternoon.

Waipopo man who rescued wife from fire would have used 'every bit of strength'.

Otago

Search for missing man

Missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

More than 30 ground searchers, three search dogs and an aerial search have failed to find any further sign of missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe

Serial sea lion killer at large video

A sea lion found shot on a Catlins beach in Southland in April.

A serial killer may be targeting New Zealand sea lions, with a $5000 reward on offer in exchange for the culprit.

Fired while on sick leave

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Oamaru-based P&W Painters (PWP) to compensate former employee Paul ...

Company that unfairly fired brush hand while on sick leave also had to compensate an ex-staffer who was called a "baby killer".

Kidnapping duo plead guilty

Nick Miles, 24, and Gary Michael Wilson, 46, have admitted kidnapping a man and dumping him on the outskirts of Dunedin.

Two men kidnapped and dumped another man on the outskirts on Dunedin.

Southland

Youth organisations make appeal

Sam Balloch was one of dozens of volunteers seeking signatures for a petition to keep Number 10 One Stop Shop and ...

Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop and the Invercargill Secondary Schools Network are gathering support for their petition to remain at their current location.

Pound in clear

An animal group and the Invercargill City Council are at odds about how a dog was treated. (File photo)

Ministry for Primary Industries clears the Invercargill City Council over captive bolt use.

Forestry gets favour: ES

Nicol Horrell, chairman of Environment Southland.

''Forestry operators will be able to operate at lower environmental standards than other resource users in Southland."

Quake off Southland coast

A magnitude 5.8 quake struck near Southland.

A 5.8 earthquake hit off the coast of Southland - but its shaking was unnoticeable, GeoNet says.

Ad Feedback