The Murupara water supply will remain untreated after strong opposition from the community.
A special meeting of the Whakatane District Council's Policy Committee agreed that the Murupara water supply could remain untreated with work to be carried out to secure the reticulation system against potential backflow contamination.
The committee met at the Murupara Area School hall on Tuesday to consider a water safety report on the town's scheme.
The report recommended that a full set of treatment contamination barriers be installed based on advice from the Director General of Health and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
Both health authorities advocated that, in view of the findings of the investigation into the major Havelock North water contamination event in 2016, effective treatment of the water supply should be undertaken.
That would have involved the installation of chlorine and UV disinfection, as well as backflow prevention and real-time water quality monitoring, at an estimated cost of $825,000.
The meeting was preceded by a public forum, attended by an estimated 100 community members.
Committee chairwoman Judy Turner said those attending were unanimous in their opposition to chlorine treatment of the supply, "or in fact any treatment at all".
"Murupara people are passionate about their water, which they believe to be the best in the world.
"The town's supply is drawn from deep bores into an aquifer which is renowned for its water purity. There are reportedly no agricultural activities which could potentially affect water quality and the town's doctor confirmed that in his 25 years of experience, he had not encountered any cases of water quality-related illness," she said.
Turner said committee members considered the health officials' advice, in the context of their legal advice that the council had to take all practicable steps to ensure that the drinking water it supplied complied with drinking water standards.
"We recognised that Murupara's aquifer provides very high quality drinking water and that this community considers its water as a taonga which should not be tampered with, unless there is a clearly identified contamination concern.
"Under the circumstances, we felt obliged to respect the town's wishes and the committee unanimously adopted a recommendation that backflow devices be installed to prevent contamination entering the reticulation system from connected properties."
Turner said water quality monitoring would also be upgraded to provide early warning of any issues which might affect drinking water safety.