After months of consultation with intake landowners, Aronga Mana and the community, the Cook Islands Government has authorised the start of poly aluminium chloride (PACI) dosing trials.
The Te Mato Vai water system PACI trials will begin alongside commissioning activities already underway at each of the water intakes and no chlorine will be added to Rarotonga’s drinking water supply at this stage.
The process called coagulation, sees PACI slowly added to water causing small particles to stick together and settle at the bottom of the tank. It aims to remove small particles from raw water including harmful protozoa that can cause diseases such as Giardia.
But lobby group Te Vai Ora Maori spokesperson Justine Flanagan said this is not a 'trial' - this is the first six months of operation.
“Real waste, real streams, real people,” she said.
“Proceeding with the 'trial' is irresponsible when there is no way to dispose of the waste.”
Flanagan said the Government should be trialling diversion.
“Diversion: only collect the clear water. When the stream is muddy, switch to stored supply,” she said.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said he was pleased to announce the Government’s next step towards providing a safe and reliable water supply for the country.
“Conducting water treatment trials are part of the standard process in commissioning major water infrastructure all around the world,” he said.
Following recent community concerns about project permits, the National Environment Service has again confirmed the Te Mato Vai Stage Two project holds all necessary permits for construction and commissioning.
National Environment Services director Nga Puna said: “The government has committed to managing the PACI trials in a way that protects the health of the community and the environment.”
“They have provided all reassurances necessary that the use of chemicals during the commission will not cause significant harm or breach any requirements of the Environment Act 2003.”
The coagulation process will be closely monitored during the trials and a summary of all monitoring results will be available to the public.