Data shows dirty water at stations

Tuesday August 27, 2019 Written by Published in Health
George Maggie. 19072602 George Maggie. 19072602

Two of Rarotonga’s most notorious drinking water stations have cleaned up – but the remaining four continue to have high contamination levels.


Ooa and St Joseph’s Hall water stations, which had high coliform levels in recent years, both recorded nil coliform readings this month – indicating their water should be safe to drink.

Health Ministry testing data shows the big community water stations at Tupapa, Rutaki school, Muri and Takuvaine Assembly of God have consistently failed water quality tests for the past year, according to Cook Islands News analysis of 12 months of data.

Last night, Tupapa water station founder George Maggie said people trusted his water, because he regularly waterblasted the seven filters he runs the water through – but he said it would be easier to keep it clean when chlorine is introduced to the water supply.

Muri and Tupapa have averaged total coliform levels of at least 140 per 100 ml – to put that in perspective, recommended safe levels for treated water are under 5 per 100 ml.

All four stations have tested positive for faecal coliforms, which ideally should not be present in safe drinking water.

“Lab test indicates six stations with faecal contamination over the recommended standard. The result also indicates failure in the water treatment system,” the latest Ministry of Health report says.

This month, Tupapa, Muri, Matavera and Titikaveka stations all had unsafe total coliform levels – but worst of all were Rutaki and Takuvaine AoG as well as Aroa Nui Hall, Avana and Sinai hall.

Tupapa managed to clean up its water and gets it total and faecal coliform levels down to nil, for two months over March and April – but they are now right up high again.

The Tupapa station was the first in Rarotonga, established in 2011 by George Maggie. Earlier this year, local company Envirolyte installed their anolyte hypochlorous acid disinfection technology which, the data shows, cleaned up the water for two months. Coliform readings dropped to zero.

But after a dispute with health and water authorities, government minister Maggie says he had to get rid of the anolyte disinfection and go back to water-blasting – and since then, tests show coliform and faecal coliform levels have soared again.

He said health authorities were happy to criticise the quality of his water, but unable to help him do anything about it.

“It’s like they’re trying to take over control of the water system,” he said. “If they want to look after the water stations, they should supply everything, the filters, the water flasks.

“Once the chlorine goes in, I won’t have to do so much for disinfection – the chlorine will keep it clean. That’s what the doctors say, and I respect them.

“But I will still look after the filters, I will still waterblast them. That’s what I do.”

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