Town suffers 'Third World' tap-water

NASTY TURN: Shannon residents are outraged that the Horowhenua District Council will not clean up their discoloured water. They blame the town's dirty water for cases of E. coli, giardia and tummy bugs.
LEILANI HATCH
NASTY TURN: Shannon residents are outraged that the Horowhenua District Council will not clean up their discoloured water. They blame the town's dirty water for cases of E. coli, giardia and tummy bugs.

Shannon residents are urging the Horowhenua District Council to act urgently as giardia and tummy bugs plague the community.

Resident Janette Campbell contracted giardia last month after drinking boiled tap-water.

"It's actually dangerous, you can die from giardia," Mrs Campbell said.

Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and weight loss.

Residents took a gamble every time they drank, washed salad or cleaned their teeth with tap water, she said.

"It's like playing Russian roulette. You can't actually see the contamination," she said. "We're decent people, we're not a Third World country."

The residents have been on a boil water notice since November last year, with the Horowhenua council refusing to act to clean up Shannon's water supply.

Ross Campbell said his wife had been so sick he feared she would die.

Mr Campbell contracted water-borne E coli about a month ago and by the time he received medication, he was passing blood in his bowels, he said. To alleviate the aches and pains, the couple filled the spa – but the water was brown.

The couple now boil water for at least 10 minutes to limit the risk.

Last year's annual review of drinking water quality highlighted serious dangers in Shannon's water supply, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

MidCentral District Health Board drinking water assessor Peter Wood said half a glass of Shannon water would probably be safe to drink, but two litres a day could cause problems for the body.

A dozen residents have complained to the Manawatu Standard of stomach bugs and diarrhoea since publication of the report's results last week. Some said they were unaware of a permanent boil water notice placed on the town a year ago.

The residents said they were outraged at Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy's comments that the water was safe to drink, that nobody had died and the community was healthy.

Mrs Campbell said the water caused ongoing doctors' bills and problems for her adult sister-in-law, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Another resident – who asked not to be named – said her family had continuous stomach bugs until the family began boiling the water three years ago.

Mr Duffy has agreed to offer Shannon tap-water at a Horowhenua District Council meeting on November 10.

He declined to comment about the residents' concerns.

Manawatu Standard