Source: Queenstown Lakes District Council, 5 December
On the back of the Havelock North water contamination crisis
earlier this year and after advice from Public Health South, the
Queenstown Lakes District Council has made the decision to
proactively chlorinate three small community water supplies this
Wanaka and Queenstown supplies are already chlorinated.
Now QLDC is giving early notice that the water supplies of
Arrowtown, Hawea and Glendhu Bay will also be chlorinated over the
summer, as a precaution to ensure the safety of residents and
visitors over the busy tourist season. Each of these supplies have
previously been contaminated during peak summer demand, which has
led to emergency chlorination.
The plan is to chlorinate these small schemes from mid-December
through to the end of March 2017. Installation of chlorination
delivery systems is scheduled to start from 12 December and
chlorination of water supplies will likely begin that week.
During the Havelock North water contamination event over 5000
people became sick with waterborne gastrointestinal illness,
causing Public Health South to request that local territorial
authorities consider chlorination and other treatment measures.
QLDC has subsequently reviewed the risks to the public
surrounding unchlorinated supplies within the district and, after
seeking expert medical and legal advice, has decided on the
temporary summer measures. Further, the Council is investigating
the possibility of permanently chlorinating all residential water
supplies in 2017.
QLDC Chief Engineer Ulrich Glasner sees chlorination a necessary
precaution. "Our communities are entitled to safe drinking water.
There is both the expectation and legal requirement that the water
for residents and visitors alike is safe to drink. We are not
prepared to take any risk."
Medical Officer of Health for Public Health South, Dr Derek Bell
fully supports the QLDC decision and agrees that chlorinating the
water supplies is a responsible step. "Chlorine provides one of the
most effective ways of treating water because it disinfects the
water all the way from the source through to homes and businesses.
Chlorine kills small bugs that can get through filtration systems
such as bacteria and viruses that cannot be physically removed from
While a decision has yet to be made on permanent chlorination of
all supplies in the District, this is something the council is
looking at closely, says QLDC Chief Executive Mike Theelen.
"Ultimately we have a responsibility to provide safe drinking water
and we are obligated to learn from the Havelock experience."
"An event of that magnitude in the Queenstown Lakes District
would be very damaging on a local level, in terms of the effects to
residents, but also seriously damaging to the region's tourism
sector. While the water in Queenstown and Wanaka is already
chlorinated, it would be irresponsible of the Council not to
consider the potential of permanent chlorination of all our water