A private company which has been supplying Kaeo homes and businesses with water for the past eight years is turning off the taps later this month.

Wai Care Environmental Consultants Whangāroa has notified its customers it will cease operating the Kaeo town drinking water supply as of November 23.

The private scheme supplies 10 businesses, nine homes and four community buildings, including public toilets and the Memorial Hall.

A Far North District Council spokesman said discussions were under way between Wai Care, the Northland District Health Board and the council about how a drinking water supply could be continued beyond November 23.

Advertisement

Wai Care customers would be contacted by council staff about their options within the next seven days, he said.

In a notice to customers, Wai Care spokesman Bryce Smith said meeting ever-changing legislative requirements, including the NZ Drinking Water Standards, was demanding — especially when larger suppliers failed, increasing the scrutiny on everyone else.

''The impact is costly, and maintaining those costs is unsustainable for us.''

As a small private water scheme, Wai Care didn't meet the criteria for government grants, Smith said. The company would dismantle the plant if no solution could be found to re-establish the water supply.

Kaeo's town water supply was originally owned by the council but was sold in 2000 to the Doubtless Bay Water Company, which then sold it to Wai Care in 2008.

The scheme, which takes its water from the Waikura Stream, has been subject to a
boil water notice since 2015 when tests detected the presence of E. coli bacteria.

Customers had also complained about discolouration and inconsistent supply, prompting at least one business — Kaeo Farm and Fuel — to install rainwater tanks.

Bruce Mills, Kaeo representative on the Bay of Islands-Whangāroa Community Board, said it was imperative the township got a good, potable water supply.

''I'm hoping that some good comes out of this ... And I sincerely hope the company will leave the infrastructure there for future use.''

In 2016 contamination of a Hastings District Council-owned water supply caused a campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, making 5500 people ill and contributing to four deaths. Since then water supply regulations have been beefed up and small private operators have been forced out by rising costs.

In July this year a private scheme supplying treated bore water to 68 homes and businesses at the State Highway 10-Waipapa Rd intersection and nearby Mawson Ave ceased operation. Those properties are now supplied by the Far North District Council.