Imposition of chlorine in water leaves sour taste

Members of the Luggate community say their normally good relationship with the Queenstown Lakes District Council has been soured over its move to chlorinate the town's water supply over the summer.

The Luggate community was informed about potential chlorination earlier this year, which prompted swift expressions of resistance and the delivery of a petition to the council.

Luggate Community Association chairman Graeme Perkins said the lack of consultation by the council was as much an issue as the chlorination itself.

''We normally have a good relationship with the council ... but this one's left a bit of a sour taste.

''There wasn't a serious consultation process.

''We ended up feeling they were just paying lip service to us.

''Even though they know what the community wants here, they seem to be going ahead with their agenda anyway.''

The community understood that the council was liable for any outbreaks of water-related illness, but it was an issue that needed to be discussed, he said.

Mr Perkins was overseas when the announcement was made, but deputy chairman Rod Anderson was not contacted by council and only found out about the decision to chlorinate through local media.

Mr Anderson said he was not aware of any poor water test results in the area.

The fact that nearly everyone in the community signed a petition against chlorination was a clear indicator that the community felt strongly about the issue.

Mr Anderson's wife, Cec, started the petition in April, which quickly gathered 214 signatures from around the community.

She was prepared to sign a waiver to continue using untreated water and she believed most of the community would consider paying additional rates for a solution that did not require chlorine, she said.

''I choose not to go to a public swimming pool because of the chemicals, but that's my choice.

''To have it forced into my home for no reason ... it gets me more than a little upset.''

Mrs Anderson said she was informed she could purchase a water filter at a cost of at least $700.

''Why should we have to? To take out something you didn't want in the first place.''

The community was concerned that once chlorination was introduced, it would become permanent.

Temporary chlorination was introduced to the Hawea communities a year ago and has remained in place because high coliform counts were detected earlier this year.

Hawea Community Association chairman Paul Cunningham said residents remained ''firmly opposed'' to chlorination and people were ''prepared to take the perceived risk''.

Some residents took drums to the lake and used that for their drinking water instead, he said.

''Most of us drive past this glorious, pristine lake and yet we have to have our water chlorinated.''

Council communications adviser Jimmy Sygrove said water from the Luggate bore was independently tested twice a week with no concerning results.

''However, as we have seen most recently in Glenorchy, this can change quickly and chlorination adds a layer of protection to the supply.''

The worst case scenario was a contamination event like Havelock North, where an estimated 5500 of the town's 14,000 residents fell ill with campylobacteriosis, he said.

Council chief engineer Ulrich Glasner contacted the Luggate Community Association prior to the public announcement, which was then broadcast via social media, the council's website, and by press release, he said.

Staff would compile a report to council next year on the risks, benefits, implications and recommendations of how to protect all drinking water supplies, he said.

Council would investigate alternative ways to disinfect the water.

''Council is aware of the depth of feeling with regards to drinking water across the district and will take this into account when making a decision on permanent chlorination early next year.''

-CO News

-By Rebecca Nadge


You watch, Luggate will 'suddenly' have an outbreak much like Glenorchy 'suddenly' had an outbreak after going to the media, I swear these councils follow their own agenda come hell or high water.

Its ok as long as the drinking water does not get a bug in it. them if and when it does and people get sick .what will be said then.... When there is a bug found in water that does not have chlorine .the only way to fix it is to flush with chlorine ....only a matter of time...

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