David Mackintosh: Water security - Give us full story

By David Mackintosh -
1 comment
David Mackintosh.
David Mackintosh.

The Hastings and Havelock North communities remain frustrated and angry at the way they have been treated by those who are responsible for making sure our drinking water is safe.

The Hastings District Council has neglected the Havelock North water supply for too long. It is outrageous that Havelock North residents have had to purchase water.

The council was too slow informing the public about the contamination of the water supply and failed to take precautions.

The lack of timely information meant the opportunity to contain the spread of the infection was lost. The number of people who contracted campylobacter is much greater than what has been stated, as many did not see a doctor. There were many who became ill well before August.

My wife Kerry was in hospital in July with campylobacter and as a consequence developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome and reactive arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome) and is unable to walk.

Kerry is determined to get the message across, that there is a four-week window during which treatment can lead to a better prognosis.

People want genuine communication not spin. They are sick of PR companies being used to "manage stories" in order to "prevent panic" instead of engaging in genuine communication. People won't "panic" if they are given facts.

There is increasing resentment that PR companies and consultants are paid enormous amounts of your hard-earned money to promote questionable projects and events.

Millions have been allocated for the redevelopment of Civic Square in Hastings. Horse of the Year has been given $170,000 to cover the loss-making 2016 show along with $120,000 to top up their bank account and $120,000 every year after that.

A further $600,000 is on the table to cover future losses. According to Craig Waterhouse's report, commissioned by the council, SMC Events, who are contracted to run HOY, receive all these funds, and all other income, and even sign off on their own expenses as they have total control of the HOY bank accounts.

Councillors who oppose extravagant or questionable spending are consistently outvoted.

This is why large sums of your money are handed over to experienced opportunistic vultures.

Then we are told there is no money for core infrastructure such as the neglected Havelock North water supply system. Water bottlers plunder and export our pure deep aquifer water for free and we are left with a contaminated Third World water supply and have to purchase water packaged by them.

There is a feeling that locals are being exploited. HDC should at least be supplying boxes of water free.

A sticking-plaster approach to the numerous ongoing incidents of contamination has gone on since the beginning of 2008. Furthermore, the crumbling 50-year-old water pipes on Te Mata Rd have ruptured several times in May and June causing water contamination that needed chlorination.

The shallow Brookvale bores are vulnerable to contamination, especially if they are not maintained.

There was "new water" found in the bores which should not have been there, as the water in the aquifer is 50-plus years old.

This should have caused alarm and led to increased testing. Water security is central to local, regional, and national security.

Our water security is being affected by poor infrastructure maintenance partly as a result of internal and external political and financial pressures.

This in turn impacts on sustainability and economic development. Protecting Hawke's Bay water requires collaboration between all councils and the District Health Board.

Scientists involved in water studies must not be subjugated by any authority, and have the freedom to investigate, free from any political and private sector pressures.

The most important question to ask current regional councillors and candidates is whether they support the full survey of all Hawke's Bay aquifers.

This for me is the key issue and will provide a knowledge base on which we can better understand water security and protect our aquifers and Heretaunga Plains growers to advance future economic growth.

The Great Things Grow Here brand is a unifying force capable of helping to drive this process.

The people of Havelock North and indeed Hawke's Bay are not like so many sheep, as the amalgamation vote demonstrated. The community are frustrated and they believe they are not being told the full story behind this water contamination scandal.

- David Mackintosh, who co-owns local business Kiwi Wool with his wife Kerry, is standing as a candidate for the Hastings District Council in the Hastings-Havelock North Ward.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz

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