Hakupu cleared but the rest of the island continue to boil water as government plans to fix old infrastructure

The advice from government officials is to continue to boil water from the tap as they work on cleaning and renewing water reservoir tanks.

Director of Water and Utilities Clinton Chapman told BCN news yesterday that the village of Hakupu has been given the ‘all clear’ so they can drink directly from the tap.

Chapman said that there is a sequential plan in place which they have been following such as cleaning of tanks which they expect to be completed by end of March starting with some of the villages worst affected.

“With the immediate actions, by the end of March, we should have some of these actions done, for example, the cleaning of the water reservoirs in each of the villages as well as doing remedial works at the water bores.

“So that will be done sequentially over the next few weeks. We will start off with Vaiea, Lakepa and Liku” said Chapman.

Head of Public Health Grizelda Mokoia explained that by law they are required to test the quality of the water every three months.

She explains their testing regime “In our testing we are looking for chloroform, E-coli, electrical conductivity and the cloudiness of the water.

“We also do a risk assessment of the tanks to understand where the actual contamination is coming from so that will also help our Water division team to find out the source of the contamination and to deal with it.

“With the EC testing, we are able to see levels of metal present in the water which can be seen with rusting piping system or in the water tanks, so that will also be an indicator for us to alert our colleagues at the water division” explained Ms Mokoia.

Ageing water infrastructure is also another concern for the government, with a five-year plan in place to review and renew the old piping and tanks. Clinton Chapman says that while some villages have new tanks the government’s water reticulation assets are very old, some at least forty years old which is also why it has taken some time to get a plan in place.

A special consultation session was held yesterday organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure inviting representatives of the village councils and the media to update on the water contamination situation and the plans going forward.

Only four villages sent representatives to the consultation, Hakupu, Vaiea, Alofi North, and Lakepa.

With the support of the Ridge to Reef project and the New Zealand government, the Niue government will be installing UV water treatment systems in every village while they continue to clean and renew tanks.

Some villages decided to install their own UV treatment systems, at Alofi North and Hakupu, while the systems installed at the Commercial Centre, Niue High school and Niue Primary and the Health Department were installed since the 2018 contamination for public use.

Clinton Chapman told BCN news that water contamination happens from time to time and especially with heavy rainfall, which coupled with old infrastructure can contribute to the contamination.

He recalled the contamination incident of 2018 and how the government was able to restore water quality then so they are confident that they will restore the quality of water to what people are used to but for now the advice is to continue to boil water before drinking. 

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