The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has spent just more than $1 million on internal salary and external costs related to its Havelock North water contamination outbreak investigation and the ongoing government inquiry.

The latest figures were outlined in an agenda report to be discussed at its full council meeting on Wednesday.

About $445,000 was spent on its investigation to determine whether the contamination was in part or wholly the result of resource consent conditions not being met.

That investigation was now complete, the outcome of which saw the regional council drop its two charges against the Hastings District Council for unlawful water takes because that council conceded the breach of resource consent conditions and agreed to not contest two infringement notices, resulting in two fines of $500 apiece.


Up until January 16, the council had spent $637,310 on the government inquiry, $413,00 of that paid out in legal fees to the firm Chen Palmer, and $184,369 in internal costs.

Physical testing of the bores was still being carried out last week, and it was expected there would be additional costs incurred as the inquiry was ongoing, the report said.

In both cases the internal (salary) costs were provided for in current council budgets.

The external costs for the investigation were being funded from its 2016/17 budget provisions for legal and consultancy expenses up to $135,000.

The remainder would be funded from the surplus operating position from 2015/16, the report said.

The external costs related to the government inquiry were being funded from the council's regional disaster reserve, as agreed to by the council last September.

The Havelock North water inquiry panel is set to reconvene next week to start hearings to try and uncover the cause of the campylobacter contamination of the water supply that struck down more than 5000 people last August.

Initially due to be held on November 28, the public hearings were postponed due to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's prosecution of the Hastings District Council.

Set down in two stages, the first stage of the inquiry will focus on how the Havelock North water supply system became contaminated, how this was subsequently addressed, how local and central government agencies responded to the public health outbreak that occurred as a result of the contamination and how to reduce the risk of outbreaks of this nature recurring.

To date 20 submissions had been filed from individuals as well as organisations such as Water New Zealand and Greenpeace, and thousands of pages of documents had been presented.

Last December 15, the panel issued a minute providing further details of the topics for the expert witnesses to consider before giving evidence.

This included questions regarding the possible sources of contamination, and if it was accepted that the cause was exclusively from sheep faeces.

Also on the topics list was a query as to whether it was possible to determine whether Brookvale bores 1 or 2, or both, introduced the contaminant into the reticulation, and the pathways the contaminated water may have taken to the bores.

This included travel from Mangateretere pond or stream, travel through the well headworks of the bores, travel through any area of thin, damaged or non-existent aquitard, or travel from bore 3 or from any source close to or via bore 3 including Te Mata Mushrooms.

In addition it was asked if there was any significance from the fact that bores 1 and 2 were inactive for the 25-day period preceding last August 3.

Stage 2 of the inquiry will address systemic issues and lessons to be learned from the outbreak that resulted in 5530 people, or 39 per cent of the area's residents, contracting gastroenteritis, and which may have been a contributing cause in the deaths of three people.

The Havelock North case was understood to be one of the largest recorded campylobacter outbreaks in a water supply in New Zealand.

The hearings will begin at the Hastings District Court on January 30, and the panel is required to report back to the Attorney-General by March 31.