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City learns from gastro outbreak in Havelock North

Wednesday, June 14, 2017   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: water, environment, environmental health, health, disease

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 13th June 2017

A reference group is working to make sure the mistakes that contributed to the gastro outbreak in Havelock North last year will not be repeated here.

The outbreak in August last year made some 5500 of Havelock North’s 14,000 residents ill with campylobacter and was caused by the contamination of the town’s drinking water supply.

A person drinking a glass of water.Stage one findings of an inquiry into what caused the outbreak identified sheep faeces as the likely source of the campylobacter. 

It laid some blame on the Hastings District Council and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for the outbreak, saying they did not work effectively together and that their lack of collaboration meant opportunities to prevent it were missed. The drinking water assessors and a consultancy firm were also cited as having a contributory role in the event.

Steps have been taken to ensure a repeat of that situation does not happen here since the outbreak.

A reference group made up of representatives from Canterbury’s territorial authorities, Environment Canterbury, and the Canterbury District Health Board has been set up to ensure there is good collaboration across all the agencies involved in drinking water management.

“We already had excellent working relationships with those agencies but we could all see the benefit of having a cross-agency reference group that was focused primarily on drinking water quality and the sharing of contingency plans," Mr Mackie said.

“The group has met several times and has studied the findings of the Havelock North inquiry to ensure that we learn from the mistakes made and have the best possible measures in place to minimise the chances of such an outbreak occurring here."

Another response to the Havelock North gastro outbreak is Christchurch City Council fast-tracking work to replace the shallow wells that supply water to 80,000 residents in northwest Christchurch with deeper wells.

The shallow, unconfined wells are considered the most susceptible to microbiological contaminants as the ground water can be affected by land use activities above as surface water can seep into the aquifer.

The Council’s plan is to have all the shallow wells decommissioned by June 2019.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch