Monday, 6 February 2017

Sorry Havelock North, Probably No Heads on a Pike

RNZ reported on 2 February that the independent Science Caucus assisting the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry has determined it's most likely that the source of the campylobacter in the outbreak came from a pond close the the Brookvale No 1 bore. And it seems clear that there is a hydraulic link from the surface pond to the bore.

In terms of deciding what happened there are still two possibilities to be examined: contaminated water ran across the surface into the Mangateretere Pond during a high rainfall event then either entered the bore (i) via the aquifer or (ii) via a hole in the well casing.

In the first scenario the contaminated water was basically sucked down from the pond via a natural pathway through the impervious layer then into the well with the normal clean water.

In the second scenario there is no pathway through the impervious layer but contaminated groundwater flowed around the well and entered the water supply via a hole in the well casing.

A lot of smoke has been wafted around by Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Hastings District Council as well as a lot of private submitters to the Inquiry concerning the cause of the gastro outbreak and, by extension, who is to blame. This report clears the air considerably but, unfortunately, will probably not result in any clear accountability.

Reports suggest that both HBRC and HDC knew about this hydraulic connection as early as 2008. We wait to find out who knew what and when but until then it is likely that the division of responsibilities between HBRC, HDC and the Hawkes Bay District Health Board mean that we simply won't be able to finger one organisation let alone an individual.

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