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Pahiatua Water

September 8, 2010

Flood residents warned of water bug  By Tanya Katterns And Michael Forbes – The Dominion Post

Pahiatua residents will be boiling their water for at least a fortnight after a deluge swamped the lower North Island, knocking out water supplies.

Although the rains have eased and river levels receded, damage assessments have just begun.

In some places more than 350 millimetres of rain fell in 12 hours on Monday. Slips blocked roads, rain washed out paddocks and 60 residents had to flee rising waters in Pahiatua after the Mangatainoka River rose to record levels.

The big concern for Pahiatua residents now is water contamination.

Tararua District Council utilities manager Dave Watson said the water treatment plant would take several weeks to repair. “Water is being sourced from springs in the interim and, while it is being treated, residents should keep boiling water till further notice.”

Residents on the town supply and those affected by the boil-water alert risked severe gastroenteritis if they did not heed warnings. Water supply was also low and residents now faced restrictions on use.

Civil Defence spokeswoman Keryn Barlow said that, although most evacuated residents had returned home, two families in Scarborough Rd must wait until insurance and civil defence assessments were completed.

In the Gisborne district, heavy rain cut a swath through the Matahiia cemetery near Ruatoria, where the Mata River has cut into the burial ground, flushing four bodies into its flow.

Residents say they can only watch as the river cuts deeper into the small graveyard and threatens to take their relatives.

In Whanganui, contractors spent the day clearing road slips, tending to a large number of sewers and blockages, and monitoring river levels.

Of particular concern was the Whanganui River, which peaked at 6.8 metres above normal at 5.30am yesterday.

The river spilled on to a roadway at Kowhai Park and came close to entering some of the rowing club boatsheds.

District council infrastructure manager Julian Reweti said contractors and council staff would probably take up to a week to clear all the city’s blocked sewers.

Horizons Regional Council group manager of operations Allan Cook did an aerial survey of the Manawatu, Whanganui and Rangitikei areas yesterday and said damage appeared to be minimal. Reported stock losses were also low.

The lower Manawatu River peaked at 6.5m above normal and the Rangitikei at 1.5m above normal.

Motorists still had to contend with landslips on parts of State Highway 57, which runs between Levin and Palmerston North, yesterday, and SH56 near Opiki remained closed by flooding.

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