Boil water notice lifted
The boil water notice for Akaroa and Takamatua has been lifted today, but Level 4 water restrictions remain in place due to critically low stream flows on Banks Peninsula.
“In most cases people living, working and visiting in Akaroa and Takamatua no longer need to boil tap water – it is safe to drink again without boiling,” says Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont.
“However, if your property has a drinking-water storage tank connected to the water supply network, then you must keep boiling your tap water. There is a chance your storage tank still holds potentially contaminated water from the old reservoir and it needs to be properly cleaned before it can be considered safe.”
Akaroa water bypass nearly complete
The final stages of work are under way to connect up the water reservoir bypass at L’Aube Hill Reserve in Akaroa.
The new temporary bypass is currently in the commissioning phase, and work is ongoing to add it to the controls of the local water treatment plant to allow for fully automatic operation.
“Over the weekend, we’ll collect and analyse water samples from the bypass’s tanks and pipes to ensure the water is completely safe before we fully switch over to start operating the bypass in the water supply network,” says Christchurch City Council’s Head of Three Waters and Waste, Helen Beaumont.
Bypass to be connected next week
Workers have completed a critical piece of work at L’Aube Hill Reserve in Akaroa to construct a piping connection between the contaminated reservoir’s temporary bypass and the local water supply network.
A remote-controlled underwater vehicle, equipped with an on-board camera and a modified grabbing tool, was used to enter the reservoir and place a bung inside one of the two outlet pipes. The bung was then inflated with an air compressor to seal off the pipe.
Negative test result for protozoa
A test result for protozoa in the Akaroa/Takamātua water supply network has come back negative.
Protozoa are single-celled organisms, also known as parasites, which include cryptosporidium and giardia.
Water samples from the network were taken at four sites in Akaroa:
- L’Aube Hill Reserve Water Treatment Plant
- Beach Road (near Greens Point)
- Akaroa Recreation Ground
- Lighthouse Reservoir (near Lighthouse Road)
Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont says the negative test result for protozoa does not change the boil water notice in place for Akaroa and Takamātua.
“It’s very important residents keep boiling their tap water until further notice. There is still a health risk from the old reservoir,” she says.
“If you can’t boil water, use bottled water or collect safe, clean water from the tankers available in Akaroa. The water in the tankers comes from Christchurch. It is chlorinated and tested twice daily to make sure it’s completely safe to drink.”
Ms Beaumont says there is an ongoing health risk for the Akaroa/Takamātua water supply network.
“The boil water notice is still needed for Akaroa and Takamātua because the reservoir is still the source of the contamination risk. We need to completely eliminate that risk with a temporary bypass before we can say with confidence the water is safe again,” she says.
Bypass preparations under way
Ground preparations are under way at L’Aube Hill Reserve in Akaroa for the arrival of equipment that will be used to bypass the contaminated water reservoir.
Fourteen 30,000-litre plastic tanks and associated piping will be installed near the reservoir over the coming days.
A construction team is currently welding and laying about 200 metres of new piping needed to connect the local water treatment plant to the temporary tanks, and then to connect the tanks to the Akaroa/Takamātua shared water supply network.
“Once the tanks and piping are in service, we’ll be able to isolate, drain and inspect the reservoir,” says Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont.
“The inspection of the reservoir’s condition will determine whether we proceed to clean, upgrade and reinstate it within the water supply network, or whether we demolish it and construct a new reservoir while the bypass remains in place.
“Either way, we expect to be in a position to lift the boil water notice within a few weeks. It’s still too early to be able to give an accurate timeframe, but we’re working as quickly as we can to do the work.”
Ms Beaumont says testing of the local water supply for protozoa contamination was carried out on Monday and results are expected later this week.
The Council is continuing to tanker in safe, clean water to Akaroa from Christchurch. The water in the tankers is tested twice daily to make sure it is safe for drinking.
“Residents must keep boiling their water until further notice, or use bottled water, or they can access safe, clean water from the two tankers available in Akaroa. The water from the tankers does not need to be boiled – it is completely safe to drink directly from the tankers,” adds Ms Beaumont.
Temporary bypass planned
Christchurch City Council is working quickly to create a temporary bypass for the contaminated water reservoir in Akaroa.
Preparation work has already started and the temporary water tanks will be delivered to the reservoir’s site at L’Aube Hill Reserve next week.
The tanks will allow the contaminated water reservoir to be removed from Akaroa and Takamatua’s shared water supply network so it can be fully drained and inspected before either being reinstated or replaced.
The Council also expects the results of its protozoa testing next week. Protozoa are single-celled organisms, also known as parasites, which include cryptosporidium and giardia.
Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont says a negative test result for protozoa will not affect the boil water notice.
“Even if testing shows there is no protozoa in the water supply, we still need to keep the boil water notice in place. The reservoir is still the source of the risk, and we need to eliminate that risk before we can say with confidence the water is safe again.
“Residents must keep boiling their water until further notice, or they can access safe, clean water from the tankers available in Akaroa, or use bottled water.
“Bringing water to a boil is enough to kill any bugs, but tap water used in coffee machines must be boiled first. Using household or commercial dishwashers on a hot setting will also kill any bugs.”
Ms Beaumont says getting the reservoir bypass in place is complicated but staff are working as quickly as possible to get it done.
“We’ve started preparing the site for the arrival of the temporary water tanks and associated pipework next week.
“While we can’t yet give a specific timeframe, we expect to have the work completed within the next few weeks and will keep people regularly updated as it happens.
“We thank residents and visitors to Akaroa and Takamatua for their patience while we carry out this important work to make sure the local water supply is free of contaminants.”
Residents are being encouraged to share the boil water message with friends and family in the areas, and on social media, and to contact the Council with any questions.
Anyone experiencing gastroenteritis symptoms (vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, nausea, stomach cramps or high fever) should contact their general practice (GP) team, or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24/7.
Akaroa will host both the La Grande Swim event and Akaroa 10s dragon boating event this weekend.
Visiting participants and spectators are asked to bring their own drinking water for the events to ensure the water tankers in Akaroa remain for residents’ use only.
The Council is continuing to work closely with Akaroa’s health centre and resthome and is supplying safe, clean water to Akaroa Area School.
Seek health advice if you're unwell
Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Cheryl Brunton, says the risk to people’s health is believed to be low due to the large volume of water in the reservoir, but there is potential for people to develop gastro illnesses if they drink water from the Akaroa reservoir without first boiling it.
As of today, Sunday 14 February, there have been no notifications reported to Community & Public Health of illness due to the water in Akaroa.
“While chlorine will kill bacteria in the water supply, the possum and bird carcasses may have introduced other contaminants (protozoa) which aren’t killed by chlorine . They are, however, killed by boiling your water,” Dr Brunton says.
Protozoa are single cell organisms also known as parasites which include cryptosporidium and giardia.
Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis are similar and can include diarrhoea, stomach pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches and a high fever.
If you are concerned about your health call your own general practice team, or Healthline on 0800 611 116 – you can call 24/7 for free health advice.
“Both cryptosporidium and giardia in particular, can cause gastro symptoms that may persist for weeks, rather than days, and medical advice should be sought. While there’s no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis, there is for giardia.
“Symptoms of both illnesses usually appear two to 10 days after becoming infected, however, with giardiasis symptoms can appear up to 25 days after being infected.
“With any gastro illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important for people to keep their fluids up, be meticulous about handwashing and drying, and avoid preparing food for others while you have symptoms. People with more severe symptoms including fever, or who are finding it difficult to keep fluids down should seek medical advice. This is especially important for babies and young children and the elderly.
“The simple message is: If you live in Akaroa, do not drink the tap water - boil all water before using it for cooking, cleaning your teeth or for drinking. Or use clean, safe water from one of the tankers trucking water in from Christchurch, or use bottled water,'' Dr Brunton says.
Water being tankered into Akaroa
Clean water from Christchurch is being tankered into Akaroa today.
The tankers are being made available so that residents and local businesses can fill their own containers with clean, safe water while the boil water notice is in effect.
People can also boil the water from their tap to make it safe, or used bottled water.
The tankers will be in place from 10am today at two locations in Akaroa:
- Rue Brittan – Near the main boat ramp beside the recreation ground
- Beach Road – Beside the main wharf at the tour bus parking area
Christchurch City Council staff will also hand-deliver 20-litre water containers to a number of local businesses in Akaroa today.
The containers can be filled at either of the two tankers, which will be available for as long as the boil water notice stays in place.
Pallets of bottled water will also be delivered to Akaroa’s hospital and resthome today, and then to Akaroa Area School on Monday.