Council processes in lead contamination scare to be investigated

A do not drink notice has been in effect in Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village since...
A do not drink notice has been in effect in Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village since February 2. Photo: File
Proposed terms of reference for an investigation into the Dunedin City Council's handling of the lead contamination of East Otago water supplies have been outlined.

Councillors will consider the proposed criteria for the review at a council meeting next week.

The review is expected to start after water supplies to Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury have been restored.

Residents of those communities have been told not to drink tap water, nor use it for food preparation, since February 2.

The advice was issued after a series of lead readings above the level considered safe.

Recent testing has revealed either lead at very low levels or it has been undetectable.

The review follows a Ministry of Health review, and will be independent.

A council staff report says an independent reviewer or reviewers are yet be appointed.

The council has been continuing to search for the source or sources of the contamination.

Water supplies could be restored by the end of June.

The review is to consider the council's handling of the scare from the beginning, when the decision was made to test the water as part of an asset management programme.

The first test that indicated a problem was carried out on behalf of the council in July last year and the result was received in August.

The review is to consider:

  • When and what information was passed on to relevant council staff, organisations or authorities
  • Appropriateness of actions taken in response to the lead readings
  • Review of external communications and public information after the notice not to drink the water was issued
  • The welfare response
  • Appropriateness and timeliness of how relevant information was disseminated
  • Appropriateness of actions taken in response to the notice
  • The process undertaken to restore supplies
  • Improvements that could be made
  • Any other matters that may be relevant.

- An earlier version of this story referred to an internal review. The staff report to councillors refers to the internal review, but also makes it clear the review will be independent.

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