Getting clean water when you open your tap at home is something most of us take for granted — but it's not the case for everyone, including a number of Napier residents who have brown water pouring out of their taps at home.

Jane Pothoven posted the video above to a local Napier Facebook group earlier this week and was shocked with the number of people who reached out saying they had the same situation at home.

Pothoven was in Tamatea checking on a couple with intellectual disabilities, as part of her job, when she saw what was coming out of their taps.

"The lady also has eye impairment so wouldn't notice when they drink the water or brush their teeth," Pothoven told the Herald.


Pothoven said she had witnessed the situation in the house for weeks, which was what prompted her to contact the Napier City Council as well as post on the local group's page on Facebook.

"Every Friday I go there and the bath water is brown with black bits and stoney stuff coming out," she says.

"Last Friday, I kept the tap running so long that the water stopped running."

She said she called the woman who lives in the house later that day and suggested she asked her husband, who works at the supermarket, to take home a box of water.

"This is happening a lot in Napier and my concern is that people with impaired eyesight don't notice and drink it," she told the Herald.

"They say it won't hut anyone but would you drink or bathe in that type of water?"

Pothoven says she has no idea what's causing the water to come out a murky brown colour.

"She did get a letter saying they will be flushing the pipes but that's not until next week."


"I've never complained before, but got such a shock," she added.

Napier residents are sick of having to leave their taps running to get clean water. Photo / Jane Pothoven
Napier residents are sick of having to leave their taps running to get clean water. Photo / Jane Pothoven

Pothoven says she called the council and was advised to run the outside tap for 15 minutes. However, because she was doing a home visit as part of her job, she didn't have time to do that, by the time she'd managed to get through to the council.

In any case, she doesn't think it's right to expect residents to do that every time they want to get clean water.

"They're spending all this money on a new pool but us, as ratepayers, would rather have clear water. This has been going on too long," she said.

The video posted on the local group received more than 100 comments in less than 24 hours.

Napier residents all agreed the situation was unacceptable, especially given the special circumstances of the people in that particular house.

"That's bloody shocking," one person commented.

"Bloody disgusting. Council should be ashamed," another one said.

One resident commented they've had the same situation in their house all week. "Sick of buying water but have to for the kids," the person said.

"Mine was like that on Tuesday. Had the taps running for four hours and would just get worse. I didn't know there was an 0800 number to call the council until I had to go out. Thankfully, when I ran the taps when I got home, the water was clear," another person said.

"Ours is like that here in Pirimai. Imagine having to have a bath in it. Showering is bad enough," someone else added.

People also reported having their washing discoloured and speculated it could be related to the state of the water, which has the brown colour but has reportedly been deemed safe.

"It's ludicrous, happens any day or afternoon during the week, and happens on Saturdays and Sundays," a resident said. "You have to go back outside and run the taps until clear, which can take anything up to 20 minutes.

"Having a family home with a wee baby and young boy plus an invalid is just darn right bloody time consuming, disgusting and unhealthy, it's either dirty as or when clear absolutely high chlorine smell. Never used to be like this."


Napier City Council infrastructure services director Jon Kingsford said NCC had a significant work programme for improving the operation of the city's water network.

"To specifically address dirty water issues in the short term we have increased our budget for pipe cleaning over the winter period.

"This type of maintenance is not new, but we are doing more this year. This winter we expect to clean about 150km of pipe, compared with last winter's 100km."

Those in affected streets received letters in the post prior to the work in their area, which not only advised them of the maintenance dates, but also that if they experienced any issues with dirty water during this time, that they run an outside tap for 10 to 15 minutes until it cleared, Kingsford said.

If it continues, residents are advised to contact council, which was available 24/7.

Council also posts the streets that are going to be affected the day before on its website, in the public notices section. There are also radio adverts broadcast Friday to Monday.

Kingsford said the council was "acutely aware" of how much of a problem the dirty water could be for people.

In response to a question about what could those who are vision impaired do to check they're not showering or drinking this sort of water, Kingsford said.

"This is a very good question. For vision impaired people the only way to determine if water is discoloured in the shower would be due to a slight odour and an absence of a chlorine smell.

"A filter could be installed, however, while we are dealing with these ongoing dirty water events we don't recommend this as a) there would be an increased cost for the resident to clean/replace filters and b) this masks a dirty water event, and therefore we aren't able to come and take action.

"For drinking water, if the water is discoloured, it would be unpalatable and therefore would be an indicator of a dirty water event.

"They could then run an outside tap for around 10 minutes and taste again, flushing the tap for longer if there are still odour and taste issues.

"Alternatively Council could come and flush following being notified by telephone. Our City Services team are very responsive and are happy to help."