Hastings mayoral candidate Damon Harvey has made his first big campaign promise - a home water filter funding programme.

Harvey said it was an immediate first-step towards helping Hastings get back to enjoying chlorine-free water.

But incumbent mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says the move is not just impractical, it's a potential health risk for the community.

Local plumbers and water filter suppliers spoken to by Harvey had estimated the average cost for a full-house water filter install, including labour was about $1300 to $1500.


Harvey said under his leadership Hastings residents would be able to access funding to ease the upfront cost of installing a water filter with a range of payment options and preferred suppliers.

This would be provided as an interim measure while council works towards the long-term goal of returning to a chlorine-free water system, Harvey said.

"Every day I see people going to the chlorine-free water stations filling up bottles or in shops still buying their water, this costs them and we have a responsibility to help.

"Everywhere I go, when listening to people, they keep asking for help so they can afford to get a water filter for their drinking water.

"As part of this Hastings will also look at fair ways to further ease the cost burden for our most vulnerable and fixed-income elderly residents," Harvey said.

However Hazlehurst said supplying households with water filters was something council looked at "very closely" after the Havelock North water crisis.

There were several reasons that meant it was not practical, she said.

"It became clear that many people had already made their own arrangements, either fitting whole-of-house filters or filters to the taps they used for drinking water.


"Others were happy to take the council advice that storing drinking water in a jug in the fridge overnight dissipated the chlorine."

Hazlehurst said there was also the issue of the need to clean and replace filters, and the health risks associated with people not doing so.

"Our community agreed it was more important to invest $50 million in major infrastructure improvements to supply safe drinking water."

Council chief financial officer Bruce Allan said staff investigated funding water filters through rates at a "high level" in April 2018 but did not bring it to council for formal consideration.

Harvey said the filter system would also act as a "safety mechanism" for every household if they did get back to chlorine-free water.

Hastings also needed to join with Napier to have an independent investigation into a chlorine-free network plan, Harvey said.

"Both cities want chlorine-free water, and while we have experienced some different problems, it makes sense to share knowledge and expertise when it is in ratepayers' best interests."

The Government has introduced a national regulator and it will be up to councils across New Zealand to prove that they have best practice in providing safe water to their communities.

Harvey said the cost is likely to be significant and it will be important to understand the costs in returning to chlorine-free.