Residents Want Shannon’s “Third World” Drinking Water Cleaned Up

Less than a week ago we highlighted a Ministry of Health report that revealed that drinking water quality in New Zealand was declining and that 20% of Kiwis have either unsafe / unregistered water supplies. Some schools and hospitals had shocking results read “20% Of Kiwis Have Unsafe Drinking Water, 43% Bathing Waters Unsafe” to find out more.

Now we hear that residents in Shannon, a small settlement between Palmerston North and Wellington,  are suffering the effects of a drinking water supply contaminated with giardia, cryptosporidium and possibly E. coli (a potentially fatal organism associated with faecal contamination) and other enteric ‘bug’s and they have had enough. They’ve told Horowhenua District Council that they want action, and they want it now.

According to a report in the Manawatu Standard titled “Residents condemn ‘Third World’ tap-water” the long suffering people of Shannon have been on a permanent boil water notice for the last year but Horowhenua council “are refusing to clean up their water supply.”

The article said:

Last year’s annual review of drinking water quality highlighted serious dangers in Shannon’s water supply, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

MidCentral District Health Board drinking water assessor Peter Wood said half a glass of Shannon water would probably be safe to drink, but two litres a day could cause problems for the body.

A dozen residents have complained to the Manawatu Standard of stomach bugs and diarrhoea since publication of the report’s results last week. Some said they were unaware of a permanent boil water notice placed on the town a year ago.

The residents said they were outraged at Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy’s comments that the water was safe to drink, that nobody had died and the community was healthy…read the full report on the Manawatu Standard’s website

Last month councillors were invited to taste Shannon’s water, with mixed results – also from the Manawatu Standard :

Councillor Robbie Shaw – who represents Shannon – said he drinks the water, although his is filtered.

Mr Shaw said he would be happy to sip on Shannon’s water at the next council meeting. “I’ve drunk water out of the trough so I have got no problem with that,” he said. “It’s as safe as it has ever been in the last 80 years.”

Which is rather alarming, given the improvements made in water treatment and purification during that period.

Fortunately other councillors had a far more pragmatic approach, no doubt mindful of that permanent boil notice

“I would not be prepared to drink a glass of Shannon’s water, unless I can be certain it was boiled first,” Anne Hunt said.

Councillor Leigh McMeeken said she drank the water when turbidity affected Levin’s supply, but she would only drink Shannon’s water if it was boiled first.

Shannon community groups and residents have complained of inaction by the district council over what some have described as brown and dirty water. Mr Shaw said upgrading the water supply would cost up to $3 million.  “It’s in the pipeline to be fixed in the 2011/2012 financial year.” read the whole interesting report here

The only blockage being that finance has been diverted to another location having its own share of ‘third world problems’ – the quake stricken area of Canterbury where some people are facing months (perhaps years?) without both a clean water supply and a fully functioning sewerage system.

Shannon/Tokomaru Water got a  mention in the September edition of the council’s newsletter.

The team is currently working on the design drawings for the Shannon Water Main Renewals and Water Main Upgrades Programme for 2010/2011. All the refurbishment work on the Levin and Tokomaru treated water reservoirs has been completed.

and it is hoped that work will be finished by the end of next year, earthquakes and other natural disasters allowing.

You may also find interesting:

Residents of Seddon mull over water treatment plan:

“More than 100 Awatere ratepayers gathered in Seddon last night to weigh up the benefits of a treatment plant that would kill dangerous bugs in their water supply.

Awatere Water Committee chairman Ron Hebberd said the Miox system was an affordable way of eliminating bacteria from the Black Birch Stream supply. However, it might not kill giardia and cryptosporidium, so failed Government standards that all water schemes must meet by 2014.

Mr Hebberd said the Government would not “wave the big stick” at Awatere ratepayers if they could be seen to be working towards improving the quality of their supply.

The audience heard Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey told the Hurunui District Council to improve its water quality in Cheviot, truck in water, or face losing liquor licences in the area….”

One thought on “Residents Want Shannon’s “Third World” Drinking Water Cleaned Up

  1. We lived in a rural area in the Far North for awhile, and were constantly ill with intestinal problems. All of us, perpetual nausea and runs. It indeed turned out to be giardia in our drinking water. But this was in an area that supposedly had not been affected by the “backpackers who “brought giardia to New Zealand”. 100% pure spring water in an area almost untouched by man. Everything bad in New Zealand is after all brought by or caused by foreigners! It would be a paradise otherwise. Right mate.

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