A Waitaki Bridge man continues to assert water sourced from the Lower Waitaki aquifer does not need treatment.

On June 15, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) said the testing of samples from the aquifer bores showed E. coli levels rendering the water unfit for human consumption without treatment such as chlorination, ozonisation, boiling or adequate filtration.

During routine testing, an E. coli spike of 150cfu/100ml was recorded in the aquifer bores.

The drinking water standard is 1cfu/100ml.


Testing to determine the source of the E. coli spike returned inconclusive results. Peter Whitlock, of Waitaki Bridge Village north of Oamaru, has long maintained that the water sourced from the aquifer bores is fit for human consumption without treatment.

When informed by the regional council in June his water had to be treated, he was sceptical and sent a sample of water to the same Dunedin laboratory the regional council employed to test its samples.

His sample returned an E. coli level of less than one part per million, the equivalent of under 1cfu/100ml.

"They're telling us they want it chlorinated. I totally reject their idea of chlorinating our water, because it doesn't blooming need it. It's clear essentially," Mr Whitlock said.

"I don't think they know what they are talking about. If they want to do something, for God's sake come and do it."

ORC chief executive Sarah Gardner said faecal-source tracking tests would be carried out if E. coli level spikes were detected above 150cfu/100ml.

She said affected bore owners, which numbered about 120, should assume their water was unsafe for consumption without treatment.

Mrs Gardner rejected Mr Whitlock's claims the regional council had mismanaged the issue.


"The ORC has taken the safety of water consumers extremely seriously, hence our recent action to make the community aware. We have also undertaken testing in an attempt to identify the source of E. coli. Affected households were notified by letter and ongoing informative media releases were issued to ensure the public were aware of the findings and how to protect themselves. It was and is our continued hope that awareness of this issue is maintained in the Lower Waitaki aquifer region."