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'We cannot rely on council anymore' - angry Westport residents

Newshub logoNewshub 14/09/2017 Newshub staff
The town now only has six days of water reserves left. © Newshub The town now only has six days of water reserves left.

Residents in the South Island town of Westport are taking matters into their own hands to survive the town's water crisis.

Westport has only six days of water reserves left, after collapses in supply tunnels forced the council to use water from an alternative source - which is struggling to keep up.

Local David Hughes says he has noticed residents buying more water from his store than usual, and is also looking at bringing in more water from his supplier.

"Being in hospitality and the hygiene requirements around clean dishes, washing your hands, sanitising, of course it's a major problem," he says. 

Westport resident Sue Gibson says the situation is "very bad" for locals.

"It's scary. We're going to be looking at having trucks with water [come in to the town] - this is like Third World stuff."

Others have been more proactive in their response. One local told Newshub he bought a 1100-litre tank which he has connected to the spouting from his garage to collect water and be self-reliant.

"We just can't stand by as individuals and do nothing. It's all very well to moan all day but you need to get off your backsides and do something yourself we cannot rely on council anymore," he says.

"I think [the council has] dragged their feet over a number of years and it's just gone on and on to the point now they're in strife."

Around 200 people turned up to a public meeting in Westport on Wednesday night where the council explained its plan for a short term resolution.

"We've had the tunnel collapse which happened very early this year and that blocked our water supply going to our reservoirs we're having to pump water up which is costing $20,000 a month," Buller District Mayor Garry Howard says.

"We can get reservoirs levels back up if we carrying on pumping and get additional sources of water in there."

Residents have been under water restrictions since May to try and conserve water for the area after residents were recorded using triple that of the national average, which is 250 to 300 litres per person per day.

Consumers in Westport were using an average 985 litres per person per day.

Council is urging residents to remain restrictive when using water and only use it for essential purposes until further notice.

Newshub.

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