Watercare temporarily closes Onehunga water treatment plant


Watercare has temporarily closed the Onehunga water treatment plant to ensure it can continue to consistently meet new drinking water regulations which come into effect next month (November).

Water utility regulator Taumata Arowai has developed new drinking water standards that will come into effect on November 14. For the first time, the standards will include a maximum acceptable value (MAV) for perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) – manufactured chemicals used in products such as non-stick cookware or water-resistant clothing – in drinking water supply.

Watercare Production Manager Peter Rogers said: “While there have been no regulations covering the presence of PFAS to date, we have been proactively testing for its presence in our treatment plant. of Onehunga water over the past four years.

“Of these monthly samples, only four showed PFAS levels above the limit that will soon be introduced in the new drinking water standards.

“While these cases have been rare, we are proceeding with great caution in our decision to temporarily close the plant.”

Te Whatu Ora Medical Officer Dr David Sinclair agrees it is prudent that we tested PFAS in drinking water before the new standards come into effect next month, and is now taking the precaution of suspend Onehunga’s water supply.

“People are exposed to PFAS and PFOS chemicals in many ways, as they are used in everything from nonstick cookware to clothing and food packaging. Low levels of these chemicals are commonly found in drinking water sources in Europe and the United States.

“The long-term health effects of PFAS exposure are still being studied, so it is wise to suspend Onehunga’s water supply until it is proven to be consistently compliant. new standards,” he said.

The maximum acceptable values ​​in the new drinking water standards cover a range of contaminants and are based on guideline values ​​established by the World Health Organization.

Rogers says customers won’t notice any difference in the water coming out of their faucets.
“The only difference is that now that we supply Onehunga from our metropolitan network, the water contains fluoride. Until now, drinking water in the area was not fluoridated, in accordance with a decision made many years ago by the former Onehunga City Council.

“However, in July, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, in his role at the time as Chief Health Officer, asked us to fluoridate the area’s water supply by June 2024. The decision to close the plant only furthers this change.

Watercare will consider the best long-term options for the treatment plant, which could include additional treatment processes to remove any PFAS from the water.

“With the new water sources we brought online during the drought, Auckland’s water supply is in a strong position, and we are able to supply the Onehunga region from our other sources. waiting.”


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