Drinking water: The lifeblood or our people, our environment and our economy.
Hastings’ drinking water supply is, like others across the region, drawn from aquifers (underground lakes). Those water bodies are managed by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. It is responsible for the health of the rivers, streams and aquifers across the region, and manages the consenting process that allows water to be taken from them. Everyone who takes water from the aquifer or other water body must have a consent which, among other things, limits the amount of water that can be taken. For more information on water consents see Hawke’s Bay Regional Council: Taking Water.
Hastings District Council has a consent from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to take 15.25 million cubic metres of water per year for the Hastings urban drinking water supply (Flaxmere, Bridge Pa, Paki Paki, Hastings and Havelock North). In the 2018/19 year, 13.63 million cubic metres of water was abstracted for distribution to the community. It also holds consents to draw varying amounts of water for the eight smaller communities.
The water is drawn primarily from bores tapping into the aquifer, treated, and then piped via the district council networks to more than 23,000 connections to homes and businesses in the three largest urban areas of the district: Flaxmere including Bridge Pa and Paki Paki, Hastings and Havelock North, and eight small communities: Clive, Omahu, Haumoana and Te Awanga, Waimarama, Waipatiki, Whakatu, Whirinaki/Esk Valleyand Te Pohue.
The main components of the system include 24 bores, three springs, more than 530 kilometres of pipe, 32 reservoirs and 10 booster stations. More than 13 million cubic metres of water a year is pumped through the system.
The network is managed using a state-of-the-art computer system, which continuously monitors things like flows, pressures, reservoir levels, chlorine levels, treatment processes and pumping operations.
In order to ensure that the water is safe to drink a multi-barrier system of water treatment is used.
Chlorination of the supply protects the water from contamination as it moves through the pipe network, in case things like cracked pipes or faulty back-flow preventers allow untreated water into the system. Council uses Sodium Hypochlorite (no ammonia) at a dose rate of one part per million – about one tenth of the amount used to keep a public swimming pool water clean.
Chlorination is a requirement of the New Zealand Ministry of Health unless a council can prove that its network is without faults and the water is safe. Hastings District Council is committed to exploring ways of treatment and network modifications that will allow water to be supplied without chlorination.
In July 2022, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield directed 14 councils, under the Health Act to 14, to add fluoride to some or all of their water supplies. Hastings District Council is included in the 14.
This follows the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 that shifted decision-making on fluoridation from councils to the Director-General of Health. Read more here.
Prior to 2016, Hastings’ urban drinking water was fluoridated but this had to be removed when chlorine was introduced to the system in the wake of the Havelock North water crisis, as Council’s system was only set up to enable the addition of one element and chlorine was crucial to keep our drinking water safe.
Previously Hastings’ water had been fluoridated since the 1950s, with the decision supported by a community referendum in 2013.
Fluoride is programmed to be reintroduced to the main urban supply in March 2024.
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