Yet again Napier has been mistakenly lumped in with Havelock North [Hawke's Bay Today March 16].
It is a misrepresentation of the facts to say that "contaminants could enter Napier bores during major weather events" as happened with the Brookvale bores in 2016.
Not possible: Napier has an entirely different water supply. The bore heads on Havelock North's two municipal wells were below ground-level, non-artesian, not in a confined aquifer and highly vulnerable to surface contamination due to sub-standard bore head construction.
In contrast, Napier's bores have well-constructed bore heads, strong artesian pressure and are in the secure confined part of the aquifer.
However without understanding this vital difference the DHB removed the "secure bore" status for Napier's water supply in 2017 following the recommendations of the Havelock North Water Contamination Inquiry that all municipal supplies "should be treated immediately".
Seven of Napier's 10 bore heads are above ground-level, have been thoroughly serviced and their "secure bore" status has been reinstated, making Napier's bores compliant for Protozoa risk at the bore head.
This means that expensive UV treatment plants are not required.
The problem is local councils in Hawke's Bay have been doggedly following the advice of Water NZ which has promoted permanent chlorination nationwide since the 2016 gastro outbreak.
By way of contrast, Christchurch City Council is following the Dutch model for providing safe drinking water without using chlorine, not even as a "residual disinfectant" in the pipe network.
In 1975 the discovery of toxic by-products from chlorinating water led the Dutch government to revolutionise its approach.
Helen Beaumont, Water Supply Improvement Manager for CCC, says Christchurch is in the process of securing all its 146 council bores and as each one is secured chlorine has been removed.
By the end of June 98 per cent of Christchurch should be chlorine-free. The entire project will cost Christchurch about $35million. [hbtoday 16/3/19]
Contrast that with NCC's water projects which are projected to cost $20 million yet we will still have to drink chlorinated water.
What's stopping Napier from following Christchurch?
In 2017 Napier City Council decided to permanently chlorinate the town supply, even though council staff have since admitted that the two overly sensitive E. coli test results which triggered chlorination were "on the edge of detection" – no proof of any contamination.
The whole argument for chlorination hinges on the belief that Havelock North was just a "routine" water supply.
But history shows that Havelock North was never a "routine" water supply. Twenty years ago 80 people got sick from campylobacter contamination of their town supply.
The 1998 enquiry determined that contaminated surface water leaked in to the equipment chamber above the well heads (which were two-and-half metres below ground-level) and poured down into the well heads through loose seals on the manifold, mixing with the clean source water from the aquifer every time the pumps came on.
Between 1998 and 2016 Hastings District Council was constantly told by Drinking Water Assessors to raise the well heads above ground-level to prevent another outbreak.
It failed to do so and Havelock North's bore heads remained below ground-level and therefore highly vulnerable to surface contamination, especially in the major weather event with power outages in August 2016.
HBRC immediately carried out E. coli tests on all the private bores in the vicinity of the two suspect council bores in Brookvale Rd.
No E. coli was detected in the private bores and no-one got sick drinking from those bores in August 2016.
Only the two bores managed by Hastings District Council were contaminated.
Well-drillers carried out two extensive investigations of the Brookvale bores for the regional council but for some reason the Inquiry Panel declined to call HBRC's expert witness on this and the media never got to hear the full story.
The 2016 Inquiry Panel subsequently decided that the contamination was not caused by a combination of events similar to the 1998 contamination.
Instead it decided the fault lay with an "insecure" water source. The belief that the aquifer was somehow "insecure" has subsequently been popularised and the whole of Hastings and Napier was lumped in with Havelock North.
The real reason for the contamination of Havelock North's bores in 1998 and 2016 got buried.
Instead we are told that chlorine treatment will keep us "safe".
A disturbing element in the Havelock North case is that claims for ACC support have been declined because it was "not an accident".
ACC will only approve claims if someone succeeds in proving negligence in a private case pursued through the civil courts.
That's expecting far too much from the survivors of the Havelock North gastro crisis.
* Pauline Doyle and Ken Keys are spokespersons for Guardians of the Aquifer.