The Ministry of Health has given the all clear for Raetihi residents to use water from a new source after the town's supply was contaminated by more than 15,000 litres of spilled diesel.

During a public meeting in the town last night, Ruapehu District Council chief executive Peter Till said the Makotuku Stream, Raetihi township's water source, is likely to be contaminated for the next three months and perhaps up to a year.

In a statement today, the council said the Ministry of Health had given the all clear to use an alternative water supply from the Makara Stream.

This follows concerns raised by Mr Till that because of previous sawmilling close to the Makara, the council would first need to do extensive testing for harmful compounds, including 1080.


He said the council was working with a number of organisations, but health was paramount.

A council spokesman said the approval from the Ministry of Health meant water from the Makara could now be used to flush the contaminated water system.

It was hoped that by next Wednesday it would also be suitable for laundry and showering, but not for drinking.

The spokesman said that long term there may not be enough water in the Makara Stream to meet the town's needs but it was an adequate short term solution.

The rain that started falling yesterday will help to flush the stream of diesel leaked into the Makotuku from a diesel tank owned by Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) on Mt Ruapehu.

RAL chief executive David Mazey attended the meeting and once again offered apologised to the community.

He said the leak was probably over a 5-6 hour period, and when it was discovered on the morning of September 28, the tank was turned off.

RAL did not report the leak until the following Wednesday.