Monday, March 4, 2024

Free produce for Otago residents battling water contamination

Free fruit and vegetables will be available for residents in Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury from tomorrow, as Dunedin City Council (DCC) works to identify the cause of lead-contaminated water supplies.

Council says it will supply a range of fruit and vegetables to residents until it has a clearer picture of the effects on home-grown vegetables that have been irrigated with local water.

“This is a very worrying time for residents in these communities and it’s important we do what we can to help at a practical level while we continue working towards finding the cause of the contamination,” said Dunedin City Council Chief Executive, Sandy Graham.

The produce will be initially available from Tuesday to Friday at the East Otago Events Centre. The fruit and vegetables can be collected during the times the centre is open for blood testing.

Meanwhile, the ‘no drink’ water notice for Waikouaiti and Karitane, issued on 2 February, remains in place.

“Water tankers are still on site to make sure people have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Council said in a statement.

Staff have already given out more than 2500 containers for people to use.

As well as having staff at tankers again from Tuesday to offer any assistance and answer questions, the DCC plans to set up a drop-in centre at the Waikouaiti Library the following week so residents are able to speak to staff about any concerns they may have.

“While the source of the contamination is still not known, lead joins in older pipes, environmental contamination in the wider catchment, or even sampling errors, are all potential causes of the spikes in lead which led to the ‘no drink’ water notice being issued,” Council said.

“Work to dig up and check the condition of some sections of old cast iron water pipes in Waikouaiti is almost complete.

“Five sections of pipeline across the area, including a section in Edinburgh Street, are being assessed.”

Where lead joins have been used, the DCC plans to replace these sections in the near future to remove that potential source of contamination from the network.

Ms Graham said the next set of water test results will be available tomorrow.

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