Pacific Resort Hotel Group chief executive Marcus Niszow told Cook Islands News last night that they had previously used chlorine “in the lack of a better solution”, but were now very happy with their new Envirolyte disinfection technology.
It was a coincidence that they installed the new technology, which runs an electric current through ANK Neutral Anolyte, at the same time Rarotonga is debating which method of disinfection to use for its 15,000 residents and tourists.
He was not sufficiently an expert to say whether the anolyte system would work for the whole of Rarotonga, but he was clear that the water on the big island did need to be disinfected, one way or the other.
“You do need to sanitise the water – the question is how you do it. What we’ve done in Aitutaki is not cheap,” he said. “I don’t drink tap water anywhere else in the world but I’m happy to drink the tapwater at Aitutaki Nui.”
He said anolyte was a “green technology” that was safe for Aitutaki’s famous lagoon.
“Finding proven eco-friendly methods of keeping water sanitised has been a challenge. Our senior executive team identified an alternative to our previous method of treating water in the usual way with chlorine, and we decided to investigate further.”
Pacific Resort Hotel Group consulted Dr Ian Calhaem, an expert in anolyte water treatment technology, who set up a pilot plant, for four weeks. The water it produced was independently tested by Watercare New Zealand, and fonud to exceed World Health Organisation drinking water standards.
Niszow said: “Within a few days of beginning the trial, staff at Pacific Resort Aitutaki Nui reported no smell or chemical taste to the water, no irritation to the skin, nil micro counts, and zero safety risks with the treatment process. “
Calhaem told Cook Islands News the resort had wanted to stop using chlorine for two reasons: first, the high levels of chlorine required to kill bacteria in the underground water meant guests were starting to complain of the strong smell of chlorine, and secondly, they wanted to remove conventional harsh chemicals from the environment.
“Pacific Resort should be applauded,” he said.
He hoped the Aitutaki Nui experience would convince Cook Islands Government that electro-chemical technology was the way forward for the country’s drinking water, especially in the Pa Enua.
“The Government has the opportunity of making a name for itself by embracing eco-friendly technology for an entire country – the only country in the world where locals and tourists could enjoy pure safe drinking water from the tap.”
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said he had asked officials to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of all options for disinfection, to make Rarotonga water make safe to drink. “This includes the anolyte option,” he said.
“The methodology of disinfection becomes more complex when you need to replicate it at all 10 water intakes that supply the whole island with millions of litres each day.
“I expect we will then be able to make an informed decision on the best options for safe drinking water for Rarotonga.”