Confusion reigns as to the reason behind new delays in establishing drinking water connections to land and property owners at Blue Bay in Mahia.

Residents were hoping a drinking water connection at the Blue Bay subdivision would be established by Christmas but were recently told that process had been delayed.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board medical officer of health, Dr Nick Jones, says recent media reports - based on a statement from Wairoa District Council - that he had intervened and caused delays in a Blue Bay water upgrade by becoming an officially affected party, are incorrect.

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Hawke's Bay Regional Council is responsible for issuing consents, and for decisions as to who may be affected parties. The regional council has confirmed Jones was not registered as an affected party in the consent process.

Jones said HBRC, the Drinking Water Assessor and himself as MOH had all been consistent with recommendations to Wairoa District Council that an alternative source was recommended for the Blue Bay water upgrade because its preferred bore was inside an area influenced by the treated wastewater plume.

Jones said clarity was also required regarding the Drinking Water Assessor's approval of a water safety plan for the upgrade.

Residents were hoping a drinking water connection at the Blue Bay subdivision would be established by Christmas. Photo / Jonathan Dow
Residents were hoping a drinking water connection at the Blue Bay subdivision would be established by Christmas. Photo / Jonathan Dow

"Approval was granted because the proposed supply would have technically complied under section 10 of the drinking water standards, but the assessor clearly stated using the affected bore was not recommended and an alternative source should be found."

An alternative would have been to move the location of the wastewater discharge away from the drinking water.

"Ensuring communities have safe drinking water is a responsibility I take very seriously and I support Wairoa District Council's ultimate decision to seek consent for a different water source."

HBRC consents manager Malcolm Miller said the regional council received an application from the Wairoa District Council for the Blue Bay/Opoutama community water supply take.

"In discussion with the Wairoa District Council and knowing there was an alternative, WDC was encouraged to look at the alternative as the original bore is inside an area influenced by the treated wastewater plume. The regional council was mindful of the multiple barrier approach, which emphasis avoiding environmental risks, followed by treatment.

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"There was a preferable alternative and WDC applied for consent for the second bore, which is what the regional council consented and the original consent application is on hold.

"The regional council has been in communication with the WDC's consultant and also received advice from the regional council's groundwater experts who advise taking water from the original bore is not good practice and not to be advised."

Wairoa District Council chief executive Steven May said the issues around the Blue Bay water supply were being investigated, adding all actions taken by the council to date were based on information received.

"Our understanding was that Dr Jones had advised our council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and others that they considered themselves an affected party in terms of the consent application.

"Our priority is to consult with the Blue Bay residents and consider the options available to ensure a safe water supply that is future-proofed.

"I have a dedicated a staff member to be the point of contact for property owners to ensure consistent and timely communication over this matter."