Chlorination of the Hastings water supply looks likely to continue until December next year, but depending on further information that was yet to come forward, alternative treatment could be consulted on before then.
Hastings councillors yesterday voted unanimously to continue chlorinating the water supply in the short to medium term, and also approved taking treated water from Brookvale Bore 3 to meet the demands of the summer period.
Group manager asset management Craig Thew said that last weekend the Hastings and Havelock North communities generated a five-year peak in water usage, which he put down in part to the hot weather and people watering their gardens.
"Getting water out of Brookvale will be key to making sure we do not run short," he said.
During the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak water from the Brookvale bores was shut off on August 24 due to contamination and replaced with water from the Hastings supply.
In order to meet summer demand, however, it was suggested that Brookvale 3 water be treated with chlorine, UV and cartridge filters so it could be re-commissioned.
Although this water was regarded to be not as secure after the gastro outbreak, once treated it was considered to be the best option to ensure there was enough water for summer.
Councillor Bayden Barber said there would be a lot of concern in the community that water from this bore would be used, given Brookvale's previous contamination, and asked how the council could instill confidence in its safety.
Chief executive Ross McLeod said it was important for people to realise that compared to other parts of the country this water source, when treated, carried less risk than faced by larger, urban populations.
"People getting water from the Waikato River face a higher risk than we do from sucking it out of the ground.
"We are using the technologies available to ensure the water is safe, and we will be testing the water before and after it is treated."
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said that based on what they knew it was unlikely the Hastings water supply system would be able to remain untreated in some form from now on.
"If we don't have chlorine we will have to spend money on something else," he said, referring to alternative treatment such as UV across the full network, that could attract a cost ranging from $4 million to $6m.
Councillor Rod Heaps said that in the big picture water quality was declining, and asked when the council would do some "real homework" to address this rather than being the "ambulance at the bottom of the cliff".
Mr McLeod said a GNS Science report on the results of its water age testing, due at the end of this week, would be very useful for informing this kind of discussion, one that the Hawke's Bay Regional Council would likely be involved in as well.
"We will be looking to engage on these issues, how do we deal with groundwater security in the future, do we need to change the management regime."
This information would probably be brought back before the council early in the New Year, he said.