For Immediate Use
Temuka Water Update 2 7/12/17 – 1000
Residents in Temuka are being reminded that their water is safe to drink following the confirmation that there is
asbestos in the water.
Mayor Damon Odey says that all professional advice the council has received says that this causes no harm to people
drinking or washing with the water, but the council is continuing to work to clear the system.
“The best expert advice is that there is no risk to health from ingesting asbestos, however this doesn’t mean that this
is a desirable situation, so we’ve now got all hands on the pump to help resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Ashley Harper, Timaru District Council Group Manager Infrastructure said that they have all the drinking water team
focused on the issue and are bringing in outside experts to help tackle it.
“Using flow diagrams, the reports from the public and our knowledge of how the system works we’ve been able to identify
the most likely area where the issue is occurring,” he said.
“We’re now bringing in specialist detection services to check the pipe in this area to see if there are any issues
within it, which we can then repair.
“Our team is also working to flush the system by opening hydrants in a controlled manner throughout the day, this is
also aimed at lessening the amount of material in the system.
“We take pride in having a safe water supply for all our communities. That water continues to be fully treated with UV
and chlorine and has been meeting drinking water standards. Although this is not a safety issue it’s not a desirable one
either, so we’re working hard to resolve it.”
Council water teams have identified the most likely source of the problem is a length of AC pipe connecting the water
treatment plant to the town. This was previously checked in a routine quality test two years ago, which said it had 20
years of life left.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Daniel Williams said that asbestos is a natural mineral-based substance that
was used widely in the past in building and infrastructure, including cement pipes.
“Asbestos fibres are tiny and hard, and if they’re breathed into the lungs they can cause disease.
“There has been extensive research into communities with asbestos in their drinking water, along with numerous animal
studies, and they have not demonstrated any health effects of swallowing asbestos.
“Together, this research provides strong reassurance that asbestos is not harmful when swallowed.
“Asbestos cement pipes were often used in water distribution systems in the past, so it’s not uncommon for there to be
some asbestos in tap water.
“Asbestos is hazardous when it’s dry and inhaled. However, the presence of asbestos fibres in drinking water doesn’t
pose a hazard for people drinking the water or using it for washing or showering.
“People should dispose of any fibrous material carefully, as advised by Timaru District Council.”
People with low pressure or blocked taps are being asked to call the council on 03 687 7200 or call their local plumber.
Local plumbers have been briefed on the issue.
Those who have removed the material should keep it wet, double bag it and drop it at Temuka Transfer station for safe