Boil water notices plague the West Coast

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

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".

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


Ad Feedback
special offers

Girl, 9, drowns in bath video

Yearbury speaks to media outside the house where the 9-year-old girl drowned in a bathtub.

An Auckland family is "really raw at the moment" after a young child drowned at home.

Gangs' fight night draws skeptics video

Tokomauri Hoterene bloodied from his fight against Head Hunter Cory Enoka.

Members from 12 rival factions stepped into the ring in a show against street violence. But critics don't buy it.

Can micronutrients help with anxiety?

Julia Rucklidge's team is currently conducting a trial to see if micronutrients can improve depression and anxiety ...

One in 10 adults in the developed world now takes an antidepressant.

Us Two: The Mad Butcher and Don Graham

Sir Peter Leitch, left, and Don Graham.

'You know the saying, "He'd give you the shirt off his back?" I've actually seen him do that.'


Car buried by slip

The buried Mazda in Palliser Rd, Roseneath, on Sunday morning.

A bank in Wellington has collapsed covering the vehicle in a pile of dirt.

Our plastic shame video

Tusnami of plastic

Researchers warn of a tsunami of plastic after the discovery of a 2.5m sq km plastic patch in the South Pacific.

Ex-British Cars House for sale

The building features a tiled lobby and a vintage cage lift.

1920s character building with penthouse apartment and rooftop on the market.

Norths and Ories finish with wins

The Marist St Pats defence struggles to contain Old Boys-University flanker Naera Tipoki at Evans Bay on Saturday.

It's MSP v HOBM and OBU v Tawa in the Jubilee Cup semifinals.


Photos: Christchurch floods

Heathcote River flooding near Sloane Terrace.

The Heathcote River has burst its banks and flooded southern parts of the city.

Live: Southern deluge 

Chris Benn cleans bikes after flooding at his Eastern Terrace home. The two cars were flooded.

State of emergencies declared in several areas as flood waters force scores of evacuations.

State of emergency in Chch

Christchurch's Heathcote River was in flood on Saturday morning.

Residents evacuated in boats as persistent rain floods the Heathcote River, closing roads and inundating properties.

Gran cheated welfare of $250k

Benefit fraudster Jasmine Hudson, 62, has been told to prepare for a jail sentence.

A Christchurch grandmother is likely to spend her 63rd birthday in jail.


'Kiwi culture' turns deadly video

Making a summer splash at locations such as the Raglan footbridge is seen as a Kiwi tradition but the consequences can ...

Four have suffered the same life-changing injury diving off a wharf; another was killed jumping from a bridge. Now, councils are taking action.

Hooves on the beat

Senior Constable Bill Eivers and Ali are known to patrol Benneydale together.

Senior Constable Bill Eivers has been patrolling on horseback for the past 15 years.

Lost trampers found

Police say the group became separated while tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

A rescue helicopter has been sent to airlift trampers from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

More drama for English teachers

Fortune is the brainchild of Scott Granville, left, and Ben Woollen of Chasing Time Productions, an award-winning ...

Two Kiwi film-makers are attacking a gap in the worldwide English language-teaching market.


Terrier looking for a friend

210717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Katie Tahere's dog Mocha is looking for a walking buddy after her dog Coco ...

Mocha is looking for a new walking companion after losing her best friend.

Farewells not the focus

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says the team aren't focusing on rallying together to try and send the departees out on a high.

Any game now could be the last for several stalwarts, but the Chiefs aren't using departures as motivation.

Building gets new roof

The New Plymouth District Council decided in January to use shingles instead of corrugated iron on the Gables under ...

The Gables Gallery's shiny new roof looks the part, thanks to 20,000 new shingles

From reporter to magical nanny

Not quite as graceful as Mary Poppins, but reporter Tara Shaskey gets a first-hand lesson on the production's flying stunts.

Mary Poppins is just a little bit magical. And that doesn't come easy or cheap.


Fetch not always a fun game

Chasing sticks can be a dangerous game, write vet Malcolm Anderson.

OPINION: Vet Malcolm Anderson offers some words of advice about the dangers of playing fetch.

No random drug tests 

Only following a police shooting do officers undergo drug and alcohol testing. (File photo).

Police are only given drug and alcohol testing if they fire a gun during an incident.

Millions spent fixing police cars

A police car comes to a final halt after crashing through a Hamilton property in June.

More than $8 million has been spent fixing damaged police cars in the past three years, with costs peaking in 2016.

Moon landing celebrated 

Buzz Aldrin stands on the Moon.

MEMORY LANE: Do you remember the first Moon landing?


Nelson too good for Wanderers


Nelson players and support staff after winning the  Nelson Bays Division 1 ...

Nelson turn it on to hammer Wanderers in Nelson Bays club rugby final. 

Buzz about beekeeping

05062015 News Photo: Marion van Dijk / Fairfax NZ.

Urban beekeeper Nigel Costley with one of his beehives in the ...

Nelsonians keen to learn more about keeping bees can do so in a short course through the Nelson Environment Centre.

Trespass case win

Lawyer John Fitchett has won a trespass case against Nelson College.

Lawyer wins case against Nelson College board meetings, but judge unimpressed.

Dancers put their best foot forward

Lillian Southward performs in the Jazz Solo section at the Nelson Performing Arts Competitions 83rd Annual Festival at ...

 Toes were on point at the performing arts competition held over the weekend.


Escaping the Beast of Blenheim

Stewart Murray Wilson talks to journalist Harrison Christian while fishing at the Whanganui river mouth.

Even though he lives far away under strict conditions, Stewart Murray Wilson still haunts his former partner.

Locomotives reunited

Blenheim Riverside Railway Society volunteers, from left, Gary Coburn, Ted Ellens, and Ralph Heywood, are pleased they ...

Decades after shifting coal together, two locomotives share a shed again.

Moutere are champions

The Moutere division one team celebrate after beating Renwick in the final at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.

Moutere are the 2017 Marlborough division one rugby champions.

Chinese keen on pricey NZ crays

New Zealand crayfish is a premium product in China where it can fetch $1000 a kilo.

When it comes to high end gourmet goods the Chinese have a growing appetite for New Zealand wine, water and crayfish.

South Canterbury

Chickens lost in flood video

The Tin Shed owner Lesley Limbe at her property in Rangitata, which was hit by extensive flooding.

Retailer left questioning why her property was hit so badly by rapidly rising floodwaters.

Weather eases in SC

A fine and sunny Sunday morning was a welcome sight for the residents of a water-logged Timaru.

South Canterbury starts to dry out as rain stops and sun comes out.

Storm fells 100 trees video

Timaru man Dave Esler among some of the swampy gum trees which came down in Friday's severe weather, and the remains of ...

Timaru man loses more than 100 gum trees to storm which hit South Canterbury.

Ready, set...chomp video

Randy Santel tackles the Gotham burger challenge at the Central Cafe in Geraldine.

US competitive eater polishes off NZ's largest burger in under 10 mins.


Todd Barclay: the other side of the ledger

Yes, we're all aware of the irony. Todd Barclay and crew in the Birdman competition during the 40th Queenstown Winter ...

What positives might Todd Barclay be able to point to, in terms of his electoral efforts in Clutha-Southland?

Cancer care a 'postcode lottery'

Fred Futschek's wife Marie died in January 2013 of stomach cancer.

Countless Kiwis may be missing out on the care they need due to the geographical inconsistencies.

Barry addresses elder abuse

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie with Maggie Barry at a public meeting for seniors in Windsor, Invercargill.

"Bad people [prey] on old people."

Stewart Island heritage gets $1m

An artist's impression of the Rakiura Heritage Centre. The centre has received, over $1 million in Government funding to ...

The Government is to commit $1.08m to the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust.

Ad Feedback