Hastings residents, including me, got a tiny taste of what the people in Havelock North are going through on Thursday.

Actually, I couldn't believe what I was reading when I saw a post on Facebook saying that a tanker, supplying "clean" water taken from Hastings for Havelock North residents, had tested positive for E. coli.

I was sure that someone was just scaremongering. Surely not - things were looking a little better, fewer people were presenting with the terrible symptoms of the gastro bug, high schools were reopened - it just couldn't be true.

But it was and the council wasted no time in chlorinating the water.


It did make me think that if they acted as quickly at the first sign of trouble with the Havelock North water supply, things would have been different for a whole lot of people.

However, I'm not going to go into who should have done what.

Every man, his dog, cat and rabbit have an opinion on this and they haven't been afraid to point fingers.

The only thing I will say is that, while some councillors have been vocal in their criticism of how the matter was initially handled, there are plenty of people behind the scenes who moved together as one, backed their leader and got on with damage control.

In a time of crisis, even if it's found in the inquiry that the council was to blame, I have to admire the way Lawrence Yule fronted up and took all the shots that were fired at him while others on his council backed him up by getting on with their job.

It will all come out in the government inquiry.

Back to my small taste - the chlorine. Oh, how I hope this isn't a permanent fixture in our water supply.

Some regions in New Zealand have permanently chlorinated water including Wellington and many of its surrounding suburbs. I truly hope that doesn't happen here.

Test the water every day, chlorinate if need be, but please don't do it permanently.

It smells horrible - I haven't tasted it because as soon as I heard they had added it to the water I went and bought some bottled water.

Yesterday test results from the Hastings, Flaxmere and Bridge Pa water supplies came back clear. Thank goodness.

So that was my little taste of the water crisis - reaching for the tap to rinse a teaspoon and then thinking better of it. Nothing compared to what thousands of people have been through in Havelock North.

And it's not over for them yet, they still have to boil their drinking water.

Recovering from just a simple tummy bug can take days - it's draining especially for parents who can't just take to their bed. I've heard some terrible stories of the ordeals families have gone through in the past week.

I was in Havelock North on Saturday at the Redefine event. Organisers were afraid that people would stay away.

However, Hawke's Bay people are hardy souls, whether you live in Havelock North, Hastings or Napier.

It was great to see people coming together in the village to appreciate the artistic talent of the many entrants in the recycle/op shop competition.

We've all seen the kindness and generosity of businesses and people throughout this entire ordeal. I'm sure that will continue until we finally come out the other end.

So for now let's leave the "blame" alone, there are still people out there who need help and support.

- Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.