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Charges against council in Havelock probe

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

An irked Hasting District Council has confirmed its is facing charges of breaching maintenance conditions of well head bores following an investigation into Havelock North's water contamination.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has laid the charges, saying on Friday morning its probe into the August contamination - where more than 5000 fell ill from campylobacter - had uncovered evidence of a breach of resource consent maintenance conditions.

It wouldn't say who the charges were against, but the district council outed itself in the afternoon, taking a swipe at its regional counterpart.

"It is disappointing with the government inquiry about to start that the regional council has pre-empted that process by taking this prosecution," said Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule.

"The regional council seems to have reached its own conclusions based on evidence yet to be tested."

The prosecution was over the Brookvale No.1 and No.2 bores, but the district council's own investigations had indicated a number of possible causes, Mr Yule said.

Mr Yule also noted the first court date, in Hastings District Court on November 28, was the same date as the start of the government inquiry hearings.

"It is of concern that this prosecution action is already interfering with our ability to respond to the inquiry."

Earlier, the regional council said its prosecution was over the unlawful taking of water from the aquifer arising from the alleged failure to meet well head maintenance conditions.

It is not saying the contamination was caused by the alleged breach, but leaving that for the government inquiry.

"The drinking water contamination has had a devastating effect on the Havelock North community with wider regional impacts," chief executive Andrew Newman said in a statement.

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