Some landowners say water authorities must put their case for chlorination sooner rather than later.
An injunction application was filed this week by some landowners seeking to stop the proposed trial of polyaluminium chloride as a flocculation agent, and the use of chlorine in the one-off “shock dosing” of the water pipes.
The injunction seeks to compel government to carry out an extensive independent
Environmental Impact Assessment Report to ensure there is no harm to the people and environment from the use of chemicals.
These calls come from the Aronga Mana of Avana Nui, Aronga Mana and landowners representatives of Turangi, Takuvaine, Totokoitu, Taipara, Matavera, and Tupapa.
Government lawyer Lloyd Miles said prior to the injunction, they had made assurances to landowners that an Environmental Impact Assessment would be undertaken, and if necessary, by an independent overseas consultant.
However, he said, landowners want the assessment done now. Miles said until they can gather data from controlled trials for the environmental impact assessment, they will not have data available as to the actual performance of the new infrastructure in Rarotonga to make a meaningful assessment.
National Environment Service director Nga Puna said he was drafting an affidavit in response to the injunction application.
“Out of the work I have done, Te Mato Vai has then agreed to do a separate EIA for the long term disinfection, so that is yet to come.”
An Environmental Impact Assessment for stage 2 of Te Mato Vai had already been signed off by the Rarotonga Environment Authority, back in 2015.
“And because of that, our duty since I have started is to ensure that we gotten a better deal for our environment, with no significant impacts.”
He said the National Environment Service was satisfied with the initial one-off disinfection method, which would have “minimum impact to the stream”.
But Te Mato Vai still had to seek a separate Assessment for long-term disinfection. “That is yet to come.”
Lloyd Miles said: “Further Environmental Impact assessments are only necessary if the work proposed will cause significant environmental impact.”
With regard to the poly-aluminium chloride (which is not the same as chlorination) he said “only infinitesimal amounts of aluminium traces will enter the scour ponds and will not harm the environment.”
Te Vai Ora Maori anti-chemical group chairperson Anna Rasmussen has raised questions about the poly-aluminium chloride, which she said has been brought into Cook Islands without public consultation or an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Landowner Manavaroa Mataiapo Tutara Philip Nicholas, who lodged the injunction application, said that he remained firm on saying no to chemicals in the process of delivery drinking water.