Some of our residents, particularly in Onekawa, Tamatea, Greenmeadows and Pirimai have experienced dirty water issues over the past year. We understand it is aesthetically unpleasant - and we're committed to fixing the problem. In the meantime, here is what you can do if you experience dirty water - and what we're able to do to fix it.
Turn on your garden tap - or an indoor cold tap - and run it hard until the water becomes clear. If it is not running clear within 10 to 15 minutes, call our 24/7 Customer Service number (+64 6 835 7579). We'll arrange for a crew to come around and flush the main pipes in your street. You can also request action though the Report It section on our website. Even if the problem has resolved itself, we'd really appreciate it if you could give us a heads up that you've had problems. It only takes a couple of minutes to fill in the form and it'll help us track issues and trends within our network.
We regularly test the samples of dirty water to understand any potential health implications. Analysis of these tests show that there are elevated levels of manganese in the dirty water as a result of cleaning the pipe network and stirring up sediment. To have any health effects from drinking this water, you would need to ingest it frequently over a long period of time. Our recommendation is to avoid drinking dirty water and to flush the water until clear before drinking. Napier’s source water is naturally low in manganese ( less than 0.064 mg/L ) compared with the Maximum Acceptable Value of 0.400 mg/L. In December 2018, Dr Belinda Cridge from the University of Otago recommended a precautionary approach for vulnerable groups who may drink dirty water (including babies, pregnant women and the elderly). Dr Cridge concluded that “for most of the population the risk is very low”.
There are three major reasons why we've experienced dirty water in Napier water recently. They are:
Major work in pipework
Let's look at each of these in turn.
From time to time, we carry out major repairs or replacement of pipes within our 481km-long network. When we do this, water within the network can get dirty.
Throughout the year, we carry our scheduled maintenance of the network. This includes pipe cleaning and flushing to remove sediments and other material which have built up inside the pipe network. During and immediately after this maintenance work, some customers nearby the maintenance area can get dirty water through their taps. We advise customers that we think may be affected by leaflet drops - and also advertise more generally in local newspapers and through heavily-promoted posts on our Facebook page.
Sometimes, for operational reasons, we might change the flow rates and or even direction of water within the pipe network. This 'churn' can dislodge some of the biofilm that's built up inside the pipes and disturb sediments within the network.
Short term: We're carrying out a comprehensive mains cleaning programme. Much of this takes place in winter, though we've got some summer cleaning scheduled in late 2018 and into 2019.
Longer term: We're spending $5m over the next three years on specific projects to improve water quality within our network.
14 May 2019
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