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Waikouaiti/Karitane Residents Advised Not To Drink Tap Water

The Dunedin City Council and Public Health South are advising residents in Waikouaiti and Karitane not to use tap water for drinking, cooking or preparing food until further notice.

The advice comes as officials work to understand the cause behind significantly elevated lead levels detected at two drinking water sampling sites in the community and the raw water reservoir.

DCC 3 Waters Group Manager Tom Dyer says the elevated levels were discovered during recent sampling, with the unusual results reported to the drinking water assessor and checked to ensure they were accurate.

As a result, Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack is recommending that, as a precaution, households not use tap water for drinking, cooking or preparing food while the source of contamination is investigated. It is still safe to use the water for bathing, washing hands and clothes.

“We do need to rule out the risk that the elevated readings are the result of the contamination of the wider water supply,” Dr Jack said.

Further testing and risk assessment will be carried out by the DCC and the community will be updated on the results.

“We understand this news will be concerning. We are acting from a principle of caution, and wanting to give the community as much information as possible as we work to understand the situation,” Dr Jack says.

Mr Dyer says the water is sourced from the Waikouaiti River and supplies about 1500 people in the Waikouaiti and Karitane townships.

He stressed that boiling water does not remove lead, rather it can increase its concentration in water, so it was important for people to follow the advice and do not drink the water, or use it for cooking or preparing food.

Water tankers are being arranged for several locations so that people have access to clean drinking water. Locations will be advertised as soon as they are available.

Mr Dyer says the source of the lead is unclear at this stage.

“The sampling was being undertaken as part of an asset management investigation, rather than drinking water standards monitoring. We were not expecting these unusual results, but they warrant a precautionary approach. Subsequent water samples have not shown elevated levels of lead.

“We’re ramping up our sampling, but at this stage it is unclear how long the water notice will remain in place. As soon as we know more, we will share this information with the community,” he says.

More information is online at www.dunedin.govt.nz or by calling the DCC on 03 477 4000.

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