Water test found clear

Water testing procedures at Matamata-Piako District Council have been reviewed following regular testing at the council’s treatment plants showed the presence of E.coli (Escherichia Coli) bacteria in a small number of samples.

There was no pattern to these occurrences and at the time they were immediately followed up with three days of further sampling, as required under NZ Drinking Water standards, to verify whether the results were accurate. On each occasion the follow up tests came back clear.

However, concerns at the sources of the E.coli led to the Council commissioning an independent audit of the testing procedure.

The auditor’s report concluded that the cause of the E.coli results in the samples was likely to be accidental contamination due to a range of potential errors in the sampling process and transportation of the samples to the Wellington laboratory.

“At no point was the water supply compromised,” said Eion Scott, Council spokesperson. “Chlorinating the water supplies greatly reduces the risk from E.coli contamination. Getting this audit provides confidence that at no stage was public health at risk.

“Various recommendations have been made as to how the independent laboratory sampling can be improved. We will advise the laboratory of these findings and we will follow through on all the recommendations, including updating our sampling taps,” Scott said.

The other recommendations included how Council could improve some procedures to provide a written audit trail and reduce any risk when reticulations repairs were being undertaken.

The preliminary findings were reported to Council’s Audit and Risk Committee in February.

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