Father of new baby 'gutted' at lack of communication over lead in water supply

A new father is disgusted over the lack of communication from Dunedin City Council after the water supply in his town of Waikouaiti has been found to be contaminated with lead.

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Mayor, Aaron Hawkins fronted up tonight at a public meeting over lead spiking water supplies in two Otago towns. Source: 1 NEWS

Elevated lead levels in Waikouaiti were reported as early as August last year after testing at the Waikouaiti Golf Club. But, this was determined as being a “one-off spike” after consultation and subsequent testing, RNZ reported.

Lead levels for the next 14 weeks were below acceptable limits. But in October there was another high result in the same location, and again in December. Testing at Karitāne Bowls Club also returned a high result.

One sample on December 8 found 0.39 micrograms of lead per litre, almost 40 times the acceptable level of 0.01 micrograms a litre. But another sample taken from Waikouaiti’s main street returned a result well below acceptable limits on that same day.

It took two months for Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins to find out and for a do not drink order to be issued.

At a public meeting tonight in Waikouaiti, locals wanted the latest updates from officials after hearing reports from media rather than local authorities over the situation.

Local resident Richard Olsen is particularly concerned after his wife suffered a difficult pregnancy in recent months. He wonders what the long-term effects of the contaminated water will mean for his new-born daughter as well.

He says he’s disappointed and angry that the Council knew since last August about the contamination and the public were not alerted.

Olsen said his wife had blood tests done today and was anxiously awaiting results as to whether his daughter would need to be tested. He said he was “gutted” over the situation.

He said it would be good to see Hawkins “actually front up for once”.

Hawkins spoke at the meeting tonight saying council accepted its internal processes “were not up to scratch”.

“And some of those have been fixed already, and some of those will be when there is a full and thorough review of this once we have this situation under control,” he said.

The people on the ground “trying to fix the problem” were the people who would be reviewing the internal processes in due course, he said.