By AMANDA BOWES
A quiet meeting ramped up during question time as concerned residents voiced their concerns over the chlorination of the Amberley and Leithfield water supply.
Nadia Maxwell, a concerned resident, called the meeting in the St John hall which was full of people wanting answers to their chlorine questions.
Dan Harris, Manager Infrastructure Services Delivery from the Hurunui District Council (HDC) gave an overview of the water reticulation network and saying it was in poor shape – of the 310,000 cubic metres water supplied 19 percent was lost to leaks.
As with the Hawarden and Waikari system, the source was not the issue. It was the reticulation with its old, damaged pipes and the potential for contamination, he said.
Alistair Humphries, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health explained the serious consequences of E.Coli and other pathogens getting in the water supply and said it was unrealistic that people said they would rather drink the water untreated and take the risk of a stomach bug. The elderly and young are particularly vulnerable and contamination can cause death.
In response to questions raised from what people had read on the internet about the dangers of chlorine in the water, he advised people to be careful about what sites they visited and to do research into sites that were bonafide and didn’t have a hidden agenda.
Residents became heated when describing the poor quality of their water and some complained the chlorine taste and smell was so bad they couldn’t use it.
Dan Harris said that some areas received water shortly after the chlorine had been added, that is at the mixing station.
By the time the water had gone up to the Seadown tanks and then back down, the water was well diluted. Measures are going to be taken to address the problem in the newer sub divisions and other areas that have a strong smell or taste of chlorine.
A wine grower was “a bit upset at the lack of consultation” as chlorine has a negative effect on the wine making process.
Some expensive filtration would be needed to ensure wine quality he said.
At the end of the meeting the public were assured by council that in future there would be more public consultation and that the chlorine issue had probably been badly handled.
Investigations were under way to look at alternative means of supplying acceptable drinking water – these included the cost of fixing every known problem, flow meters, sterile procedures, staff numbers to fix the problems.
Once the numbers are worked out they will be put forward to the public.
“We have a two hundred million dollar network with 6000 users. Per user basis, it doesn’t look too exciting,” said Dan Harris.