The chlorination of Reefton's water supply is now inevitable, Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine says.
The Buller District Council last night approved a package of work worth $1.2 million, to upgrade the town's water system, and make it capable of handling chlorination.
Reefton has been on an indefinite 'boil water ' notice since summer, when coliform levels in the system twice exceeded public health guidelines.
Mr Cleine said chlorination would not be a popular move, and he fully expected a community backlash, but the reality was that the council had little choice in the matter.
"The Canterbury District Health Board is the regulator -- and they say the only safe option long term is chlorination.
"Even with a brand new system, we could not hand-on-heart say the water would be safe. And this is happening all over the country. "
A staff report had found Reefton water was pure when it reached the reservoir, but was being contaminated as it re-entered the town's 80-year-old pipes.
The council had applied to the government's Crown Infrastructure Partners for funding for the Reefton upgrade, which included an additional $175,000 for a new falling main, (pipe from the reservoir) the mayor said.
"We will be taking this out for community consultation as part of the annual plan process, but now we've approved the spend the staff can go ahead and put the job out for tender," Mr Cleine said.