Otama Rural Water Scheme

Permanent Boil Water Notice Issued

A permanent boil water notice was today (Friday 13 October) put in place for the Otama Rural Water Scheme.

Boil Water Notice fact sheet [PDF, 410 KB]

The notice is the result of a catchment assessment, which indicated a very high risk of microbiological contamination. It is important to note that the Council's weekly water quality testing for the scheme has not returned a positive for e-coli or any other form of contamination.

The catchment assessment was carried as part of the development of a Water Safety Plan for the Otama scheme. Current drinking water legislation requires the Council to have a Water Safety Plan in place for the Otama scheme because the majority of consumers connected to it are using the water for domestic purposes, despite the primary purpose of the scheme being to supply stock water.

Given the findings of the assessment, which was carried out by a technical expert for Opus International, we have also decided to urgently investigate disinfection of the water supply.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact 3 Waters Asset Manager Matt Bayliss phone (03) 209 0382.


Otama Rural Water Supply Scheme quick facts

The scheme supplies untreated water to 253 connections on 210 farms in the Gore District.

There is 239km of pipeline.

The water comes from a bore next to the Mataura River, at the Pyramid Bridge.

Numerous homes, as well as two schools and a marae, use the untreated water.

The scheme is registered with the Ministry of Health in the Council’s name and we hold the consent to draw the water.

Otama Rural Water Scheme users have voted to take over the ownership and management of this scheme. This will require a Local Members' Bill to be passed.

How does the Council know if E-coli is in the water at the Pyramid Pump Station?

  • A weekly water sample is taken from the Pyramid Pump Station.
  • The water sample is analysed for E-coli at the Watercare Laboratory, in Invercargill. This process takes approximately 24 hours.
  • If there is E-coli present in the sample taken, the laboratory is required to notify us immediately. The Council then issues a boil water notice.

Can the Council guarantee the quality of the water at all times?

  • No – as the water in the scheme is not treated and is not continuously monitored, we cannot guarantee the quality of the water at all times.
  • With water samples collected only weekly it takes 24 hours to get the test results. This means there is a risk E-coli could be in the water supply for a number of days before we are aware of it.

What should I do if I use the scheme water for domestic purposes?

  • The scheme is designed as a stock water scheme and we do not recommend its use for human consumption. However, if you decide to use the water in your home we strongly recommended you install an appropriate domestic water treatment system.

Why is a boil water notice issued and when is it lifted?

  • A boil water notice is issued to the scheme users as a precaution to help prevent any user becoming ill from the E-coli in the water.
  • A boil water notice means all water intended to be used for cooking or drinking should be boiled for at least one minute before use.
  • We take daily water samples at the site until the results show E-coli is absent in the water supply.
  • The boil water notice can be lifted after three consecutive daily tests show an absence of E-coli.

How are scheme users notified about the boil water notice?

  • We notify scheme users when the boil water notice is activated and when it is lifted using the following  channels:
    • We send out an email and text alert to scheme users. This goes to all users who are registered on our scheme alert database.
    • An urgent notification is aired on Hokonui Gold 92.4 and CaveFM 106.4 radio stations.
    • A public notice is placed in the Ensign newspaper.
    • We have an urgent alert on the home page of our website and display information on our water and public notices page of our website
    • We post a notice and updates on our Facebook page.

What can I do to ensure I get a notification?

  • To ensure your email and cellphone details are on our database you can either
    • Phone our 3 Waters team on (03) 209 0330.
    • Email us at info@goredc.govt.nz with the subject line Otama Rural Water Scheme Information Update.
    • Private message our Facebook page.

What can I do to ensure the water is safe following a boil water notice?

  • After a boil water notice is lifted, there is still the potential for E-coli to be present in your water tanks. Below are some safe chemicals that can be added to the water to remove any E-coli and still be safe enough to drink.
    • HTH tablets – These are small tablets that can be added to the tank to add chlorine to the water to help kill E-coli. It is commonly used in swimming pools.
    • Talk to your local hardware stores or stock firms about a product called GeoSil150. This product can be added to the tank water to kill the E-coli.

Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 F: 03 209 0357 E: info@goredc.govt.nz