Hastings mayor: We apologise for 'misery' of contamination crisis

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule has apologised to a crowd of hundreds gathered tonight in Havelock North.

The first of two public meetings is underway in the township, where around 5,200 people have been affected by campylobacter, which came from their drinking water.

Yule said this has been the largest water borne outbreak of disease in New Zealand's history.

"On behalf of the councillors and the staff, we apologise for this, and deeply regret the inconvenience, the misery and financial implications of this contamination."

Yule said they still don't know the source of the bug, and will leave no stone unturned to find it.

Mr Yule assured the audience of the councils three priorities: to keep people safe, to find out what happened "to ensure this never happens again", and seeking to support affected businesses.

With the assistance of statistics of people presenting to hospital, and GPs with campylobacter symptoms, DHB chief executive Dr Kevin Snee explained how the crisis period transpired, showing what the DHBs actions were after Friday, August 12, when the presence of E.Coli in the water supply was first indicated.

"From a health perspective we think we're through the worst of it now," he said.

Ongoing concerns from the disease were also presented, such as secondary infections of cryptosporidium and Giardia - so far there were only background cases of these.

There was also a risk of reactive arthritis, and as a worst case, Guillian Barre syndrome.

Focusing on the area around the brookvale bores, the council had undertaken three rounds of sampling around the bores from August 16 to 26.

The testing so far had found that while low levels of E.Coli were present in the Tukituki river, it was unlikely the contamination originated from there as no testing Showed the bacteria was present between the river, and brookvale bores.

They had identified campylobacter had a ruminant origin, and were now doing groundwater and floodwater modelling to identify potential pathways.

Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod said water was being pumped from Hastings to Havelock North, the Brookvale bores have been closed, and a UV treatment is in place as a contingency.

Plans for the summer months were also being developed including enhancing infrastructure.

Issues raised from the contamination, "Brings us to a wider conversation the council will need to have with the community", around chlorination.

Full time chlorination would have prevented the outbreak, he said, however council was aware of how proud the community was of their pure aquifer water.

- Hawkes Bay Today/Newstalk ZB

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