Some residents in the Kavera area have been suffering with brown water coming out of their taps for the past couple of months.
Jaewynn McKay, from Rarotonga water authority To Tatou Vai, said when it rained and the streams flooded, the rudimentary systems couldn’t cope. Muddy water streams near the coast were good indications of the water quality further up at the intakes during rainy spells.
However Andy Kirkwood of the anti-chemicals group Te Vai Ora Maori disputed this. He said development in the foothills and low-lying areas was to blame for the downstream dirt; that there must be some other explanation for the dirt in the drinking water.
McKay said the muddy water that runs through the taps from time to time was a legacy of the old water reticulation system. That system was being replaced around the island, she added.
Those pipes had been in use for about 60 years, drawing water directly from about a dozen streams. “There is only rudimentary screening of the water to remove larger sticks and other debris, and then again very basic filtration through a gravel/sand filter and then into the pipes which eventually carry the water to our homes, hotels, offices and so on,” McKay said.
“There is little or no storage where the particles in the muddy water might be able to settle before being fed down to the consumers.”