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MOKAU/AWAKINO WATER SUPPLY PRECAUTIONARY BOIL WATER NOTICE LIFTED

17 Feb 2020, 9:00 AM

Mokau/Awakino Water Supply. This information is updated regularly.

Update as at 17 February 2020

Please be advised Waitomo District Council has lifted the Precautionary Notice after consulting with the Medical Officer of Health.

YOU NO LONGER NEED TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS BEFORE USING TAP WATER FOR CONSUMPTION.

PRECAUTIONARY BOIL WATER NOTICE - Water used for drinking and cooking - Mokau and Awakino Town Water Supply

The Precautionary Boil Water Notice for Mokau/Awakino is lifted effective immediately.  We are very pleased to confirm that our water quality has improved.

Water restriction level is back to level two – Restriction. We will continue to monitor the level of consumption and will inform the community if there is any change to water restriction status.

Although we are experiencing minor discolouration issues in part of the reticulation network, however there is no health risk and we will continue to flush the network in an effort to improve the quality of the water supply.

Protecting public health is our highest priority and we carefully monitor the quality of the water supply in Mokau/Awakino.  Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding while we worked through this issue, and for the assistance with spreading the message to family, friends and neighbours.

Any issues with the Mokau/ Awakino Water Supply should be reported to Waitomo District Council on 0800 932 4357.

Update as at 13 February 2020

The Precautionary Boil Water Notice for Mokau/Awakino will remain in place. We have made good progress with pipework alterations at our water treatment plant and we are experiencing a reduction in turbidity/discoloured water spikes within the water reticulation. 


We ask residents to boil water that is used for drinking and cooking purposes as a precaution while we work on fixing this issue. When a boil water notice is issued, affected people should continue to boil their water until advised by the Council that the water is safe again.

 
We are working hard to ensure the current precautionary boil water notice is lifted as soon as possible. We are grateful to the Mokau and Awakino communities for their ongoing patience and understanding. 

Update as at 10 February 2020

The Precautionary Boil Water Notice for Mokau/Awakino will remain in place. We have made changes to the pipework at our water treatment plant and are still resolving some minor spikes in turbidity/discoloured water. 

We ask residents to boil water that is used for drinking and cooking purposes as a precaution while we work on fixing this issue. When a boil water notice is issued, affected people should continue to boil their water until advised by the Council that the water is safe again.

We are working hard to lift the precautionary boil water notice as soon as we can. We are grateful to the Mokau and Awakino communities for their patience and understanding. 

Update as at 5 February 2020

We wish to advise the residents of Mokau and Awakino that the precautionary boil water notice for Mokau/Awakino remains in place, as we continue to experience issues with turbidity/discoloured water. 

We know this issue is frustrating for residents and holiday makers. This is not what we want for our communities at this time of year. We are grateful to the Mokau and Awakino communities for their patience and understanding. 

We are currently:

  • Continuing to work closely with the Waikato District Health Board so we can be assured there is no health risk.
  • Increasing our monitoring of the water quality for any changes.
  • Re-configuring of the water storage reservoirs to manage the supply.
  • Flushing of the network in an effort to improve the quality of the water supply.

We ask residents to boil water that is used for drinking and cooking purposes as a precaution while we work on fixing this issue. When a boil water notice is issued, affected people should continue to boil their water until advised by the Council that the water is safe again.

In the future

Council has already budgeted in the 10-Year Plan to do some upgrades which will allow us to better manage algae bloom – should this type of issue occur in the future.  The work will provide more capacity and will provide us with the tools we need to treat these issues – if they occur – faster. 

It is unlikely we can stop algae blooms; they are a naturally occurring phenomena. But we do want to stop any blooms impacting on our water supplies and inconveniencing our communities.  

How you can help

Residents can continue to help us by immediately reporting any water issues.  That includes any leaks, any change to water pressure, any taste, odour or appearance issues.  The sooner we know, the sooner we can take steps to fix anything.

Please report any issues by calling us on 0800 932 4357 or emailing us at  info@waitomo.govt.nz 


Update as at 4 February 2020

The precautionary boil water notice for Mokau/Awakino remains in place. We are working to resolve ongoing minor spikes in turbidity/discoloured water.

We ask residents to boil water that is used for drinking and cooking purposes as a precaution while we work on fixing this issue. When a boil water notice is issued, affected people should continue to boil their water until advised by the Council that the water is safe again.

Thank you everyone for your patience.

Update as at 30 January 2020

The precautionary boil water notice for Mokau/Awakino remains in place.  We ask residents to boil water that is used for drinking and cooking purposes as a precaution while we work on fixing this issue.  When a boil water notice is issued, affected people should continue to boil their water until advised by the Council that the water is safe again.  

Boil all tap water used for drinking and cooking to a rolling boil for at least one minute and let it cool before use. If using an electric jug or kettle, fill the appliance to maximum capacity. Allow the water to come to the boil and switch off. You not need to re-boil or hold the switch down.   This includes all tap water that can be swallowed, e.g. for brushing teeth, making ice, dilution of juice, infant formula and tap water for food preparation. 

  • Fill a pot with water.  

  • Heat the water until bubbles come from the bottom of the pot to the top.  

  • Once the water reaches a rolling boil, let it boil for 1 minute.  

  • Turn off the heat source and let the water cool.  

  • Pour water into a clean container with a cover for storage. 

 

December

In early December Waitomo District Council noted an algae bloom in the lower dam which feeds the Mokau/Awakino supply. Algae blooms are not abnormal at this time of year around New Zealand; they are naturally occurring and most are harmless. 

Algae blooms are caused by a combination of warm temperatures feeding nutrients etc in the water. Algae blooms can happen quite quickly, making the water look cloudy and dirty.   

When the bloom was identified in early December, WDC isolated the lower dam, and drew water from the upper dam instead (which was unaffected). However, some of the water from the lower dam had already moved into the treatment plant and reservoirs on site. In response, WDC began flushing the water through the treatment plant, reservoirs and reticulation to get rid of the cloudy water.  

This flushing process takes time so, with the support of the Waikato District Health Board, we issued a precautionary boil water notice for Mokau and Awakino on December 9th.  While the water didn’t look great, we wanted to be absolutely sure there were no issues and that ALL precautions were taken.  That precautionary boil water notice was lifted in Mokau on December 17th and in Awakino on December 19th.

Over Christmas, the Mokau population increased from about 400 to about 2000. This created some short-term issues with low pressure because of the huge call on the town water supply. During that time, the water remained discoloured at times from turbidity (cloudiness) but there was no boil water notice in place. 

January

On 8 January 2020, again in consultation and with the support of the Waikato District Health Board, WDC issued a precautionary boil water notice following turbidity – this time caused by algae in the upper dam (which has previously been clear).  This water had also got into the treatment plant. That boil water notice was lifted on Thursday 16 January.

On the night of Friday 17 January, and in the early hours of Saturday 18 January, extra monitoring picked up increased turbidity again at the treatment plant. 

We are still working through exactly what has caused this issue but believe it is likely to do with sediment having got into the treatment process.  

On Saturday January 19 we consulted the Waikato District Health Board again and sought their advice. The Waikato DHB asked us to issue a precautionary boil water notice again. This precautionary boil water notice was advised via Facebook on Saturday evening and precautionary boil water notices were hand-delivered to houses in Awakino and Mokau on the morning of Sunday, January 19. 

Since January 19th we have continued to monitor the turbidity at the treatment plant and within the network; however, the required parameters to lift the precautionary boil water notice have not yet been met due to turbidity still being picked up within the network.

As at Thursday 30 January 2020 the precautionary boil water notice remains in place.

Fixing the issues

Since the issues were first identified in December, staff have been working to resolve them. 

We know this issue has been hugely frustrating for residents and holiday makers. This is not what we want for our communities at this time of year.  We are grateful to the Mokau and Awakino communities for their patience and understanding. 

To help resolve the issues we have:

  • Increased monitoring of the dams and the treatment plant servicing Mokau and Awakino. 
  • Increased physical testing of the water.
  • Successfully replaced the sand filter; a major part of the treatment plant.
  • Identified and fixed a small issue with a transfer pump
  • Done some other work on-site to ensure the plant is running as well as it should be.
  • Continued working closely with the Waikato District Health Board so we can be assured there is no health risk.
  • Hand delivered information to the community.  
  • Worked directly with local businesses who have needed some extra support.

We are limited to how much physical work can be done at the plant during the peak holiday summer season while the demand for water is so high.

But we will continue to do all we can to ensure the current precautionary boil water notice is lifted as soon as possible.

 In the future

Council has already budgeted in the 10-Year Plan to do some upgrades which will allow us to better manage algae bloom – if they occur – in the future.  The work will provide more capacity and will provide us with the tools we need to treat these issues – if they occur – faster. 

It is unlikely we can stop algae blooms; they are a naturally occurring phenomena. But we do want to stop any blooms impacting on our water supplies and inconveniencing our communities.  

How you can help

Residents can continue to help us by immediately reporting any water issues.  That includes any leaks, any change to water pressure, any taste, odour or appearance issues.  The sooner we know, the sooner we can take steps to fix anything.

Please report any issues by calling us on 0800 932 4357 or emailing us at

info@waitomo.govt.nz