Oxford Rural No. 1 Water Scheme: The Answers to Your Questions

A boil water notice has been placed on the Oxford Rural No. 1 Water Scheme. This is in response to a positive E.Coli test in the water in late January.

While Council has acted swiftly in response, and is conducting regular tests on the scheme, the boil water notice will remain in place until the cause of the positive test can be determined.

At the same time, Council is moving forward with its plans to establish a new ground-based water source to feed the scheme.

Below are the answers to all of the questions you have asked of us, in relation to the current status of the scheme:

How long will the Boil Water Notice remain in place?
When will the new source be implemented?
How can we make a submission to Environment Canterbury on the resource consent application to take water from the new bore?
Will there be a rates rebate for affected properties on the scheme?
Can council supply bottled water to scheme members?
Can private treatment systems be used as an alternative to boiling water?
Is the water safe for stock to drink?
Why have some residents not been informed of the notice?
What happens to water in individual tanks after the notice is lifted?
Why has the boil water notice only just been issued now, when the scheme has been operated this way for years?
What should we do if we are still getting discoloured water through our taps?
How much will rates increase as a result of the proposed upgrade?
What is Council doing to protect the quality of the new well?


How long will the Boil Water Notice remain in place?
The Boil Water Notice was issued following a positive E. coli test in the reticulation on 26 January 2018 and while all subsequent testing has been clear, the source of contamination has not been identified. We have received technical advice that bacteria can survive in water with residual chlorine when the turbidity levels are high, such as occurs on the Oxford Rural No.1 scheme. Staff have therefore not been able to gain the required levels of confidence in the supply to lift the Boil Water Notice.

Following discussions with the Drinking Water Assessors at Community & Public Health it is now considered likely that the notice may not be able to be lifted until the new source comes online. We will however continue to seek further advice and undertake any additional testing that may allow the notice to be lifted earlier.

Back to top

When will the new source be implemented?
The new well on McPhedrons Road has been drilled, developed and tested.  The consent application to Environment Canterbury to take water from the new well was publically notified on the 7 February 2018.   To connect the well we also need to construct a 5 km pipeline between the new well and the View Hill reservoir.  The upgrade will not be completed until late 2018 / early 2019 depending on the consenting process and progress with construction of the pipeline.  We are looking to fast track the project to bring this source online earlier if possible.

Back to top

How can we make a submission to Environment Canterbury on the resource consent application to take water from the new bore?
Submissions on the consent application and details of the consent to take water from the new bore can be found online. These details are summarised below:

Consent Number and Name: CRC183143 – Waimakariri District Council application to take groundwater for Community Drinking Water Supply near McPhedrons Road, Oxford.

Submission Closing Date / Time: Submissions must be received by Environment Canterbury not later than 5pm Wednesday 7 March 2018.

How to make a submission: You can make an online submission at: https://www.ecan.govt.nz/do-it-online/resource-consents/notifications-and-submissions/notified-consents/

Back to top

Will there be a rates rebate for affected properties on the scheme?
We acknowledge that the Boil Water Notice has resulted in significant inconvenience and increased costs to affected properties (e.g.: in terms of electricity costs and purchasing bottled water).  However the Council will not be able to offer a rates rebate, as the scheme’s account is set up just to recover all actual costs (not to make a profit). So although there is a boil water notice in place, the costs to run the scheme have not changed, and all costs are required to be recovered through rates so that the account does not go into deficit.

Back to top

Can council supply bottled water to scheme members?
Council cannot supply bottled water to scheme members, but residents can fill their own bottles at the campervan filling point outside 82 High Street in Oxford.

Back to top

Can private treatment systems be used as an alternative to boiling water?
Council’s recommendation is to boil water due to the safety risk.  We cannot comment on the effectiveness of individual private treatment systems. If residents wish, we are able to provide water quality information to system suppliers and the system suppliers can provide residents directly with information on the effectiveness of their treatment systems.

Back to top

Is the water safe for stock to drink?
The water is sourced from the Waimakariri River similar to the Council’s stock water race system and is treated with chlorine, therefore it is considered to be of a sufficient level of safety for stock to drink. The Council is taking a very low risk approach with the recommendation to boil water for human consumption as there may be some vulnerable residents on the scheme.

Back to top

Why have some residents not been informed of the notice?
Council has contacted directly all ratepayers on the scheme either through email, text and/or letter to the postal address each ratepayer has registered against their property. Some residents in rented properties may not have received the Boil Water Notice directly.  It is the responsibility of landlords to inform their tenants of this information once they receive it. If you have not received the Notice please get in contact with the Council on 0800 965 468.

Back to top

What happens to water in individual tanks after the notice is lifted?
Some further advice will be offered on this at the time that the notice is lifted. The advice on this may depend on whether there are any more positive E. coli samples between now and the time that the notice is lifted.

Back to top

Why has the boil water notice only just been issued now, when the scheme has been operated this way for years?
In the past Council has relied on the routine E. coli sampling to prove the safety of the scheme, and for years there have been no transgressions (the most recent transgression prior to the 2018 one was in 2004). The lack of any positive samples has previously given confidence that the scheme is safe, however now that there has been a positive sample it is more difficult to give this same level of confidence going forward until the source can be upgraded.

Back to top

What should we do if we are still getting discoloured water through our taps?
If you are still experiencing issues with discoloured water please lodge a service request with Council.  We have been undertaking some flushing in the network, following the flooding event in the Waimakariri River in January, however there may still be areas of the network we need to flush.

Back to top

How much will rates increase as a result of the proposed upgrade?
The details of the projected rate increases of the scheme are included in the Council’s draft Long Term Plan which will go out for consultation with the public in March. The projected increases over the coming years as per the Draft Long Term Plan are:


Financial Year


2017/18 (current)

2018/19

2019/20

Rate ($ per unit per year)

$396.70

$425.10

$482.10

Increase

-

7.2%

13.4%

Back to top

What is Council doing to protect the quality of the new well?
The key advantage that the new well has over the existing river intake is that it is a deep well (107m depth) with natural filtration provided through the layers of soil and gravel between the surface and the aquifer.

In addition to this the well was drilled in accordance with industry best practice by a certified drilling contractor, which included grouting of the top of the casing to prevent water tracking down the casing that may contaminate the supply. The new site will also be fenced off to prevent stock accessing the area immediately surrounding the well. In addition to this a drinking water protection zone will also be created surrounding the well site which will restrict the types of activities that can be undertaken within the wider area surrounding the well, or ensure that sufficient measures are put in place to minimise any risk of contaminants from the surface entering the aquifer where the water will be drawn from.

Back to top

Email: