Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

How safe is our water supply?

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SAFE: Western Bay of Plenty District Council's operations manager Peter Edwards said the district's water was subject to a rigid testing regime. Photo/John Borren.
SAFE: Western Bay of Plenty District Council's operations manager Peter Edwards said the district's water was subject to a rigid testing regime. Photo/John Borren.

Tauranga and Western Bay councils senior officials say the public can have complete confidence that our local water supplies were safe to drink.

The officials comments come on the heels of Havelock North's major gastro-enteritis outbreak which has left hundreds in the town sick, and two people critically ill.

The source of the contamination is believed to be linked to the town's water supply.

Tauranga City Council's water services team leader Peter Bahrs said the water collection and treatment processes in Tauranga were "very different" from in Havelock North.

"In Tauranga the water is pumped from two spring-fed surface water streams, and treated at Tauranga City Council's two treatment plants using microfiltration," he said.

"After this, chlorine is added to disinfect the water. The combination of microfiltration and chlorination is a well-recognized treatment process for providing water suitable for public consumption by removing any harmful organisms including Campylobacter, which has been identified as the source of the outbreak in Havelock North.

"

Mr Bahrs said in Tauranga the water delivered from each treatment plant was sampled about 20 times per month with testing done by council's accredited laboratory.

"In addition, the chlorine leaving the treatment plants was continuously monitored to ensure water was sufficiently disinfected during its journey to the customers' taps."

Western Bay of Plenty District Council operations manager Peter Edwards said the major point of difference, was that apart from water sourced from a dam high up in the hills at the back of Te Puke, the rest of the supply came from surface ground sources.

"We don't have any water that comes out of the ground and all of the sourced water passes through multiple treatment plants across our communities before it's chlorinated."

"All of that treated water is already biologically inactive but we add chlorine to ensure we can preserve the water quality along the entire supply chain of pipes."

Mr Edwards said he could reassure Western Bay residents that all the water went through a rigid testing regime undertaken by an independent laboratory several times a week.

"People can be confident that every time they open their tap, they can brush their teeth and drink the water, knowingly it is safe to do so," he said.

Te Te Ora Public Health Service was unable to comment by at the time our story went to print .

- Bay of Plenty Times

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