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Mahanga water supply referendum

A referendum on the Mahanga drinking water will be held next year.

The electoral roll for the Mahanga Drinking Water Referendum will be open for inspection for a month from Monday November 23, 2020 with delivery of voting packs due to start on January 27, 2021.

The Mahanga drinking water supply provides a water service facility. The Wairoa District Council faces considerable challenges to delivering long-term safe potable drinking water to the Mahanga community and complying with NZ drinking water standards.

In 2017 a referendum was held with 78.4% of the voters voting against the closure of the Mahanga water supply.

Since the referendum, there have been significant changes in the drinking water environment including water contamination events, such as the outbreak in Havelock North, changes in the water policy and legislation, increasing costs and a lack of future certainty.

At a Mahanga Water Supply meeting with property owners at Mahanga Marae on Saturday June 8, 2019, it was moved that the Wairoa District Council consider holding another referendum with updated information for retaining the water supply or closing it.

Council estimates an upgrade to the Mahanga water supply would cost a minimum of $1million with a significant spend required to get more accurate costings.

Taumata Arowai, the new drinking water regulator, will bring a stronger focus on safe reliable drinking water and will take a stronger approach to non-compliance and lifting standards. Council’s duty with closing the Mahanga water supply would be to ensure the community has safe and reliable drinking water if the water supply is shut down. This would be done with rainwater tanks and filtration and UV disinfection. This could be a partnership with Council.

Eligible voters will be provided with more information once their voting packs are sent out on January 27, 2021.

The close of voting is midday on February 19, 2021.

20 November 2020

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