We stay in Turangi and often walk or cycle the intake valley road with our sons. Back in July, water discharged from the new storage tank into the stream resulted in a die-off of the koura vai (bracelet prawns), I believe.
Below the construction site, there was a marked decrease in prawn numbers. Above the discharge pipe – plenty of prawns. A local who fishes the area told me of a similar incident in Avana; and that he had been removing carcasses from the stream.
When I contacted the Project Management Unit, I was told that no chemicals had been used; however my request for workplace records to identify what may have caused the contamination was refused.
Nothing has been done to prevent damage to the other intake streams.
It's only a couple of kilometres from the construction site to where my sons and their cousins play in the stream.
Our communities use this water to irrigate crops, for medicine preparation, and to provide food. These streams flow into our wetlands and lagoon.
The final part of the construction process is to sterilise the water storage tanks with high-dose chlorine solution. “Commissioning” requires 2.3 million litres of water to be discharged, and this will be repeated for each tank, at each intake, on all the major freshwater streams around Rarotonga.
There are consequences. Whoever makes the decision to proceed with chemical treatment will be accountable.
Andy Kirkwood, Turangi