Brown tap water has Foxton residents worried

By Ashleigh Collis

Foxton resident Bruce Mulhare holding a glass of Foxton tap water before it is processed by his filters.
Foxton resident Bruce Mulhare holding a glass of Foxton tap water before it is processed by his filters.

Foxton residents are staggered that council is making big plans for Foxton's Main Street while they can't even drink water from their taps.

Bruce Mulhare and wife Ray have lived in Foxton for three years. They installed a water filtration system to their mains soon after.

"The filtration system cost us over $2000 and the filters that we have to change every three months cost $53. They go in pure white and come out almost pitch black. Filtering was the only way we could use the water, but we still don't drink it," said Mr Mulhare.

The burnt orange flecks off Foxton's water pipes, nearly 100 years old, add a brown tinge to the water making it easy to mistake for ginger beer.

It has been an ongoing issue in the area for more than two decades, however Horowhenua District Council said Foxton's water supply has always been 100 per cent safe to drink.

"Meanwhile, the Main Street is set to get a $1.5 million makeover that would include widening the footpath, tree-planting, new line markings, street furniture, extra car parks, and pedestrian crossings, when that money should be spent on our pipes," said Mrs Mulhare.

Kere Kere Ward councillor Michael Feyen said people that have had their piping renewed from the road to their house still experience the same problems.

"Our water pipe system is bad but so is the water we are getting out of the ground, there needs to be some real action taken," he said.

"People are paying rates for water they can't even drink, water that has ruined washing, dried out skin and smells so strongly of chlorine that I wouldn't give it to my dog."

Mr Feyen said that a bigger version of Tokomaru's water filtration system could be an option.

"At just $33,000, this at least needs to be looked at. We have a big problem with our water in Horowhenua but in Foxton and Foxton Beach it is particularly bad and while it is being rectified, remedial action should be taken to supply clean drinking water for both Foxton and Foxton Beach."

Horowhenua District Council water and waste services manager Paul Gaydon said he understood the steps taken to improve water quality was not a long-term solution but the regular water mains flushing certainly was helping improve the issue.

Mr Gaydon said they won't be providing any remedial support to residents.

"Despite water clarity issues experienced by some residents at some times, the water from Foxton's supply has always been 100 per cent safe to drink, and is compliant with its A-grade status under the NZ Drinking Water Standards."

Mr Feyen said he has his doubts about the safety.

"With our current infrastructure it's just a matter of time before what happened in Havelock North happens here in Foxton. It's only the heavy chemical handling of the water that has temporarily cleared it up. You get used to the chlorine after some time but I've had feedback from residents complaining about the effect of the chlorine on their skin, and those with closed in showers often have to open the shower door for fresh air because they are overcome with the fumes," he said.

"The cost involved in fixing the system is huge, central Government may have to help us out with this one. Action needs to be taken now. Foxton residents have been dealing with this issue long enough. "

Discolouration is caused by historic lime-scale build-up on the mains pipes dissolving, and subsequently discolouring the water, experienced in many towns containing manganese, which is difficult to remove cost-effectively, said Mr Gaydon.

"The chlorine odour will decrease. However, we will still have to add sufficient dose of chlorine to cater for the water at the extremities of the reticulation network," Mr Gaydon said.

Council was committed to finding a lasting solution and Mr Gaydon thanked the Foxton community for their patience, feedback and updates provided over the past years.

- Horowhenua Chronicle

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