News from Ruapehu District Council
Ruapehu District Council will begin cleaning the Raetihi reservoir on Sunday as part of its plan to restore water to Raetihi following the diesel spill from the Turoa ski field on Friday.
It is currently anticipated that reticulated non-potable (non-drinkable) water will be available from Wednesday 16 October.
RDC Chief Executive and Civil Defence Controller, Peter Till, said that during the cleaning of the reservoir residents will see dirty water in the storm water system.
“Along with the residual diesel this run-off will comprise mud and sludge and whatever else has built up in the reservoir over time and people should not be concerned. The reservoir cleaning process will require council to take water out of the Makara stream which will drop in level during the procedure. Once the cleaning of the reservoir is complete attention will turn toward flushing out the reticulated pipe system.”
“The plan is to flush the reticulated system out in blocks. Residents will be kept fully informed at each stage of the process and people will be asked to assist by turning on outside taps.”
Mr Till noted that the other public services set up to assist residents get through this period were all working well.
“The eight drive-up showers at the Downer Works site on the corner of State Highway 4 and George St have been well utilised with 96 people using them yesterday and 40 using them this morning before 9.00am. By Monday we will have an additional 28 showers set up on the same site.”
“At around midday on Sunday, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) will begin their door-to-door water delivery service. Residents should keep an eye out for an RAL truck making its way around town.”
A domestic laundry service will start from midday on Monday from council’s meeting room at their Seddon St office.
“The laundry bags hold 15kg of washing which are about the size of a pillow case.”
News from Maori Party – October 5
The Maori Party calls for more accountability over the recent environmental disaster on Maunga Ruapehu this week. The Maori Party says the spillage from a diesel storage tank at Turoa that leaked more than 1500 litres into the Makotuku stream has been disastrous and is calling on the Department of Conservation and Ruapehu Alpine Ltd that operates the ski field to tighten their environmental and safety requirements and procedures.
“The local people, Ngati Rangi and Whanganui iwi refer to Ruapehu as ‘Koro’ which reflects their respectful relationship with the mountain. They have long had a spiritual connection to Ruapehu, its crater lake Te Wai a Moe and its many rivers, streams and tributaries. Ruapehu is located in the Tongariro National Park which has World Heritage status that not only recognises the volcanic features, native plants and bush but equally as important the spiritual and cultural relationship with iwi,” says Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia.
“Ruapehu Alpine Ltd has profited from their ski business at the Turoa ski field for decades – in return we would expect that there would be stringent environmental and safety processes in place to avoid such disasters.”
“We know this incident has specifically affected clean water access for the residents of Raetihi and would like to acknowledge Ngati Rangi and the wider communities of Ohakune, Karioi and Waiouru who are stepping up to help with the clean-up and opening up their homes, marae and businesses to provide alternative water access.”
“This has come at a huge cost to the community. We ask who will pay for the damage this has caused to the Makotuku stream water supply, the flora, fauna and wildlife and the costs incurred for the Raetihi community to find safe alternative water supplies?”
News from Horizons Regional Council – October 4
Three more booms are to be deployed along the Makotuku Stream today as efforts continue to assess and contain a diesel spill from the Turoa Ski Field in Tongariro National Park. Two teams will be carrying out visual and sniff tests of all waterways in the catchment today.
Staff are also investigating soil removal at the Turoa Ski Field carpark to prevent additional diesel getting into the Makotuku Stream.
Raetihi reticulated water supply will be shut down for at least ten days. Fresh water is available via a tanker at the Seddon Street Four Square.
“The main priority is the community of Raetihi and we will be working alongside the Ruapehu District Council, DoC and local Iwi to help minimise disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods,” says Horizons incident controller Craig Grant.
Sampling has been undertaken at the tank and stream and Horizons is investigating options for on-going monitoring. This will help determine when water from the stream will be suitable for drinking water takes, as well as the spill’s impact on the in-stream environment.
Information about the availability of water and ablutions in Raetihi is on the Ruapehu District Council website www.ruapehudc.govt.nz Residents are also being encouraged to go to the Ruapehu District Council office on Seddon St in Raetihi for information.
Although the Raetihi sewerage system is still operational, Ruapehu District Council has not turned the water supply back on to enable its easier use as the contaminated water is a hazard to anyone who may inadvertently drink it and would pollute residential plumbing.
People who cannot get to the tanker and need water delivered are asked to contact the Ruapehu District Council on 06 384 4447. Showers are being organised for later this afternoon and updates will continue to be provided via the website and local radio.
News from DoC – October 3
There has been a diesel spill from a tank at the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) Turoa ski field base in Tongariro National Park. An unknown quantity of diesel has leached into the Makotuku stream, which is the primary tributary to the Raetihi town water supply.
The extent of the spill is unknown, and the Horizons Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and the Ruapehu District Council are working together with RAL to find out more. The Department of Conservation is also working closely with Iwi groups who have an affiliation with southern Ruapehu.
Collectively these agencies are acting on the understanding the spill is linked to the closure of the Raetihi town water supply on Wednesday. Ruapehu District Council has responsibility for the water supply, and has undertaken testing to determine the cause of the contamination.
Expert advice has been sought on how to decontaminate the Raetihi reticulated water supply system. Indications are that a period of more than ten days will be required.
Residents of Raetihi are being provided with fresh water from tankers at the Four Square store at Seddon Street, and are advised to visit http://www.ruapehudc.govt.nz/Site/default.aspx for more information.
All consent holders who take water from the Makotuku Stream have been notified by Horizons Regional Council. A response team has also been mobilised by Horizons, and will manage the immediate mitigation and clean-up.
Any impact on native flora and fauna is unknown at this point, and the Department of Conservation has teams on the ground surveying for any impacts on Whio and other wildlife. Potential impacts are not likely to be known for several days when more information about the scale of the spill is available.
News from Horizons Regional Council
Consent holders along the Makotuku Stream and Mangawhero River are advised to exercise caution in taking water from these waterways following a diesel spill at Turoa ski field base in Tongariro National Park.
The Council’s incident response team is working to contain and assess the extent of the spill. However, as sample results confirming the presence of hydrocarbons will not be returned for two weeks, people are advised to exercise caution and be aware of the signs.
Horizons incident controller Craig Grant says consent holders concerned that diesel may be present in their water take should look for a rainbow sheen and strong smell.
“It is likely that stock will turn up their nose at any water that has been contaminated, but it is something for farmers to be aware of and we do advise carrying out visual and sniff tests,” he says. “Our initial response team is on-site to contain the spill and will be looking at longer-term options for clean-up once we are fully aware of its extent.”
The spill has caused the closure of Raetihi’s water supply. Residents of Raetihi are being provided fresh water from tankers at the Four Square store at Seddon Street, and are advised to visit Ruapehu District Council’s website www.ruapehu.govt.nz for more information.
Horizons will continue to work closely with Ruapehu District Council, the Department of Conservation and local Iwi. Further updates will be provided as they become available.