Some wary of cleared water

By Patrick O'Sullivan -
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Hannah Barnden (left), a teacher who became ill, with her son Micah Barnden, 4, Havelock North; one-year-old Katie Dawson; Cherry Grove Childcare and Family Centre owner Emma Dawson; Sophia Dawson, 3, owner Brendon Dawson and Zoe Dawson, 5, with bottles and boxes of water. Photo / Duncan Brown
Hannah Barnden (left), a teacher who became ill, with her son Micah Barnden, 4, Havelock North; one-year-old Katie Dawson; Cherry Grove Childcare and Family Centre owner Emma Dawson; Sophia Dawson, 3, owner Brendon Dawson and Zoe Dawson, 5, with bottles and boxes of water. Photo / Duncan Brown

Havelock North residents no longer need to boil their water.

The Hastings District Council lifted the boil notice for the town water supply on Saturday after a third clear water test. However, some residents were still wary of the water

Mother-of-three Emma Dawson was still using bottled water as the Hastings water was "so highly chlorinated".

"We were all sick and ... here is still that unknown," she said.

She and husband Brendon own Cherry Grove Childcare and Family Centre, where the removal of the boil-water notice would free up teachers from hand-washing supervision.

"We have had to do a wash in soap and water, dry them for 20 seconds, then use a bleach-and-water solution and then dry them for 20 seconds. That's before every meal and after every toileting," she said.

Nearby resident Ola Roberts was also still using bottled water.

"I think it will take a little while before we get back confidence in the situation," she said.

Chlorinated water tasted "terrible", had an unpleasant odour and irritated her children's skin.

"They are not as keen to shower as they normally are - it causes a bit of itchiness and dry skin."

The boil notice has been in place since August 12, a precautionary measure at the time due to a suspected gastro-illness outbreak. Campylobacter was found in the water, affecting more than 5200 people - one third of Havelock North residents.

Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod said water from Hastings was now throughout the Havelock North water system.The Brookfield bores were closed off last month.

He asked residents, building owners, business owners and their staff to flush pipes for two to three minutes before drinking water.

Owners of large buildings such as resthomes and office blocks should run the water at the ends of their systems to draw the water through. Stored water and ice should be replaced.

National water standards require drinking water to be chlorinated for three months after contamination and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he wanted the people to decide whether to chlorinate long-term.

Water treatment options and the timeframe in which they would be presented were still being decided "but we may well be on fresh [unchlorinated] water by then".

The council's increased testing regime would likely remain. "We are probably three times of what is required under the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards."

While Hastings water was secure there was a chance of infection through broken pipes, which chlorination guarded against.

Mr Yule acknowledged people preferred unchlorinated water but the council had to make sure it was as safe as possible. The Government inquiry into the campylobacter outbreak would likely run into next year.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the inquiry could recommend all New Zealand drinking water be chlorinated. "We would fight that."

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