Substandard Wellington water awaits new tests

Nov. 10, 2000
Water in three Wellington region areas - including Miramar and Seatoun - doesn't meet Health Ministry standards for disease-causing organisms, a report says.

WELLINGTON, NZ, Nov. 04, 2000 (The Evening Post)—Water in three Wellington region areas - including Miramar and Seatoun - doesn't meet Health Ministry standards for disease-causing organisms, a report says.

Councils say work is under way to deal with the problem, but the gradings are out of date.

The Health Ministry's annual review of the microbiological quality of drinking water, released this week, gave D grades to three municipal water supply areas in the region.

They were eastern Wellington (Seatoun and Miramar) in Wellington city, Greytown in South Wairarapa and Peka Peka in Kapiti. All other areas received A or B grades or had not been graded.

Throughout the country, the number of people getting water that was up to standard had improved 1.2 percent (to a total 2.65 million people) on last year, but 478,000 people received water that had either not been tested or tested using procedures which did not meet drinking-water standards.

Diseases spread by contaminated water include cholera, typhoid, salmonella, giardia, cryptosporidium and campylobacter.

Wellington City Council water and waste manager Charles Willmot said the D grading for eastern Wellington (Seatoun, Miramar) was due to excessive leaks in the pipe network before the system was graded in 1994. Considerable money had been spent upgrading networks and the council was waiting for new drinking water standards to come into force before applying for regrading.

Kapiti Coast District Council services manager Chris Trattles said the original grading reflected insufficient monitoring of water in the network. Since then, monitoring had been stepped up but the council had not applied for a regrading.

South Wairarapa District Council works and services manager Ravi Mangar said the Greytown treatment system had recently been upgraded but the council had not applied for regrading until it was fully operational.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman said it was up to each council to apply for regrading and until they did the old grading remained on the register.

About a third of registered water supplies were in schools, the responsibility of trustee boards. Despite improvements, the report noted the continued failure of schools to address drinking-water quality issues.

There was no evidence children were becoming sick from drinking water at any school, Education Ministry property management group spokesman Brian Mitchell said. The Ministry was working with small rural schools where water quality was most likely to be an issue. "The problem is usually the failure to conduct proper monitoring of the water supply and does not mean that the schools' drinking water is unsafe."

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