Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has today advised Hastings District Council of the commencement of a formal investigation into the condition of the Havelock North water supply bores as a source of contamination.
Investigations since the event began into the source of contamination have increasingly indicated that the source of the contamination may relate to the security of the water supply bores. Yesterday we began preparation of a letter to Hastings District Council advising them of this but last night we received additional information which confirmed to us that we could not delay formal investigations any longer. This additional evidence was known to Hastings District Council six days ago but they failed to bring it to our attention.
To the extent that we are able we will continue to keep the public informed of progress in our investigations, consistent with providing the Hastings District Council with natural justice.
This information and HBRC’s associated actions will also be shared with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board to enable the DHB to decide what actions to take under the Health Act.
HBRC has been collecting information from the earliest point of awareness of this issue. Once the Government inquiry has been established, HBRC will provide all of its information and the results of its investigations to the Government inquiry.
HBRC is responsible for managing naturally occurring freshwater resources in the region, as set out in the Regional Resource Management Plan. The Plan includes a wide range of rules to control activities that may have an adverse impact on freshwater resources. Included in these rules are standard conditions for the drilling construction and alteration of bores which must be “cased and sealed to prevent aquifer cross-connection, and leakage from the ground surface into ground water” These rules and associated compliance activities are informed by a programme of environmental monitoring to identify changes in the environment over time. This programme of monitoring includes regular surface and groundwater monitoring.
Pathogens are commonly found throughout the environment and are often naturally occurring. Changes in the environment, including the presence of pathogens, can occur in the environment quickly (minutes, hours, days). It is not possible for the Regional Council to monitor all of this all of the time. This means individuals and entities using the environment need to play their own part in managing their exposure to environmental risks that may exist.
The Health Act and associated regulations clearly sets out responsibilities for drinking water suppliers. These responsibilities include the monitoring of their water source or sources, the local surrounding environment of the sources, as well as identifying potential risks and managing these risks. The Hastings District Council is the water supplier for the Havelock North water supply bores.
29 August 2016
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