Water supply inquiry chair Lyn Stevens thanks Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Hastings District Council for efforts

By Nicki Harper -
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ADVICE: Inquiry panel chair Lynton Stevens QC said he hoped all parties involved in protecting the safety of Havelock North's water would co-operate in the public interest. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND
ADVICE: Inquiry panel chair Lynton Stevens QC said he hoped all parties involved in protecting the safety of Havelock North's water would co-operate in the public interest. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND

A government inquiry chairman has thanked two councils for their efforts which resulted in Hawke's Bay Regional Council dropping its prosecution of Hastings District Council.

The inquiry into the Hastings council's request to reactivate a Brookvale Rd bore to augment Havelock North's peak summer water supply retired yesterday with 16 draft recommendations.

Before wrapping up proceedings, inquiry panel chair Lyn Stevens QC thanked the councils for their efforts.

This agreement came after the first day of hearings on Monday, when pressure was applied by the panel to reconsider the charges.

After extensive questioning on Monday, the regional council agreed to withdraw the charges relating to breaches of the Hastings District Council's resource consent conditions for taking water from Brookvale bores 1 and 2 - opting to instead consider issuing infringement notices.

Mr Stevens said the panel was grateful to all who contributed to the resolution.

"In particular, we acknowledge Mr Newman's [regional council chief executive Andrew Newman] role, and the chance to discuss the issue."

Mr Stevens also noted Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Dr Kevin Snee's leadership in brokering the water-safety joint working group, the formation of which Mr Stevens described as a "breakthrough".

He said he hoped such co-operation could continue.

"The panel has noted a level of defensiveness in some of the evidence filed to date.

"I'm not being critical of any organisation or witness but wish to emphasise the overriding interest with this inquiry is the public interest, while we look to fulfil the terms of reference to determine the possible causes of contamination."

A set of 16 draft recommendations were issued and Mr Stevens said the joint working group would be an important conduit to implement them.

The aim was to have the bore reopened at the end of January before Havelock North water use reached peak demand in February.

Among the recommendations was a directive that the working group - comprising representation from HDC, HBRC, the DHB and drinking water assessors - meet regularly and share information of any potential drinking water safety risk.

Following inspection and any necessary maintenance or repair work on Brookvale Bore 3, the working group would be charged with approving its use before it is switched on.

For at least 12 months from December 12, the bore would receive cartridge filtration, UV and chlorine treatment, and a regime of regular monitoring be implemented.

It was also recommended that the HDC draft an Emergency Response Plan before Bore 3 was brought on line.

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