New well for Darfield after gastro outbreak

DR RAMON PINK: Heavy rain led to animal effluent entering an untreated well.
DR RAMON PINK: Heavy rain led to animal effluent entering an untreated well.

At least 138 Darfield residents had serious stomach upsets after drinking water contaminated with animal waste.

The Canterbury District Health Board's Community and Public Health division has released its report on last year's outbreak of waterborne gastroenteritis in Darfield.

Twenty-nine people tested positive for campylobacter in the July and August outbreak. Another 109 people were defined as having probable campylobacteriosis.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink said the outbreak happened after heavy rain caused animal effluent to enter an untreated well.

The report recommended:

- Finding an alternative groundwater source for the Darfield population;

- Establishing a multi-barrier approach to drinking water supplies involving protection, monitoring and maintenance of the source;

- Adopting treatment and distribution consistent with New Zealand drinking water legislation.

The report also said chlorination would need to continue if the Waimakariri River was to be used as a future water source.

Selwyn District Council water services asset manager Murray England said the council had been forced to revert to the river supply a month before the outbreak because of problems with its deep-bore system.

"These problems have now been fixed and this has allowed us to return to our deep bore."

Repeated testing had confirmed the water was safe to drink, he said.

The council had begun implementing the CDHB's recommendations and had received consent for a second deep-bore water source for Darfield.

Construction would start in April, giving the town an alternative backup supply to the Waimakariri River.

The Press