Photo: Rebecca Ryan
Council and health officials are having discussions this week to confirm what needs to happen before Waikouaiti area tap water is declared safe to drink.
”We are working closely with the Dunedin City Council to ensure that the water in the Waikouaiti supply is safe,’’ Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Susan Jack said.
A notice asking residents of Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury not to drink from tap water would be lifted once measures to manage risk were fully in place, Dr Jack said.
Residents have been told not to drink tap water, nor use it for food preparation, since February 2, after a series of tests revealed elevated levels of lead in the network.
The source of the intermittent problem has not been confirmed.
Testing in recent months has produced lead readings well within the acceptable limit — or the metal has been undetectable — and the council has been replacing old pipes that had lead joins.
A lead monitor was also bought from Belgium and Dunedin City Council Three Waters group manager Tom Dyer said work was being carried out to confirm its accuracy.
The council aimed to restore the East Otago communities’ drinking water by the end of the month, but Mr Dyer said the timeline could be extended into early July.
Replacement of water pipes in Edinburgh St, Waikouaiti, and surrounding streets is due to be finished this month.
Mr Dyer said pipes had been laid above ground in some side streets as an interim measure to ensure safe water was available as soon as possible.
The pipes would be buried next month.
Old lead fittings in pipes in Edinburgh St had been identified as one possible source of contamination, prompting the replacement of pipes in the area, he said.
Lead in tapware was flagged by the Ministry of Health as another potential problem when it released the findings of a review in April.
The city council has been sampling from the Waikouaiti water supply daily at some sites and weekly at others.
Longer term, an upgrade of the Waikouaiti water treatment plant is planned and design work is under way.