More funding required to comply with new water testing rules in Waimakariri

1:16 pm on 13 October 2022

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

Tap water

It is estimated the required testing in Waimakariri will cost about $286,510 for the 2022/23 financial year. (File photo) Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

New drinking water rules are creating a headache for Waimakariri District Council staff.

The council approved additional funding at last week's meeting to allow staff to conduct more water testing of the district's water supplies.

This was in response to the new Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules, released by water authority Taumata Arowai in May.

Water asset manager Colin Roxburgh said the required testing would cost about $286,510 for the 2022/23 financial year, compared with the budgeted amount of $204,510.

The new rules take effect on 14 November.

''Previously, the focus was on E coli, but the new rules have a much wider range,'' Roxburgh said.

The new rules meant all water must be treated for bacteria, either by ultra violet (UV) treatment or chlorine disinfection at the treatment plant.

Depending on the water source, testing and treatment for protozoa, iron, manganese, colour, nitrates, and plumbosolvent metals may be required.

Roxburgh estimated the cost of water testing for the 2023/24 financial year would be around $350,000, which would be considered as part of the annual plan process.

He recommended the extra costs be distributed evenly across the district.

After some discussion, councillors accepted the need for the extra testing.

''Unfortunately, the bar has been raised so we have to do it,'' councillor Philip Redmond said.

''It means consumers are all going to benefit from the improved water quality.''

Councillor Paul Williams said it was ''good and bad''.

''It is good that there will be more testing and monitoring, but the bad is the extra cost and considering we haven't had any issues in the past.''

Mayor Dan Gordon said Taumata Arowai staff were due to visit the district in late October / early November to discuss how the new rules would impact on the district.

Repairs from the July rain events will now cost $3.82 million, an increase on the $3.15m indicated at the September meeting.

Roading manager Joanne McBride said staff were continuing to work through co-funding arrangements with Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency.

It was estimated roading repairs would cost $1.94m, with the Waka Kotahi share expected to be close to $1m, and the remaining balance funded by a loan.

Deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson said Kaiapoi was once again faced with an ''unfair burden'' as the ''receiving area'' for flood waters, so the council needed to rethink how costs were shared across the district.

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