Lake Hayes E.coli anger


A Queenstown mum is accusing Otago Regional Council of negligence for failing to put up signs warning E.coli had been detected in Lake Hayes.

Cath Hudson is furious ORC didn’t warn locals earlier.

Samples taken on December 11 revealed high levels of the bacteria. ORC was informed of the readings last Wednesday. But when signs still weren’t in place on Tuesday morning, Queenstown’s council offered to do it for them.

The readings showed a level of 921 E.coli per 100ml. National guidelines say anything over 550 per 100ml “poses a health risk”.

ORC resource science boss Dean Olsen admits it’s in the wrong, apologises for the delay and puts it down to “human error”.

While Hudson didn’t swim in the water, her two youngsters and their friends did.

“I was furious with them for not putting up signage. It is not on. Especially in the first few days of school holidays, on a beautiful sunny day, they will have known.”

She says one of the kids was flying out to England yesterday to spend time with elderly grandparents.

“If she had got sick she wouldn’t have been able to fly and if she is going to get sick … then her first week spending time with her grandparents is potentially ruined because someone has been negligent.”

In an emailed statement, Olsen says it won’t happen again.

“QLDC and Public Health South were not notified immediately following the high reading on 11 December.

“This result was received on Wednesday last week but was not followed up immediately, as it should have been. As a result, a swimming advisory did not occur … and warning signs were not put up until yesterday [Tuesday].”

Hudson isn’t the only peeved party. Queenstown council’s comms man Jimmy Sygrove questions the delay by its regional counterpart.

“It is ORC’s responsibility to put signs up and notify the public. ORC oversees the health of our waterways, lakes and rivers and carries out testing. We weren’t made aware of the high readings until Monday afternoon. Any delay in notifying the public in this sort of situation is obviously a concern.”

Yesterday afternoon ORC said the lake was safe for swimming again, after further tests. A water sample collected from Mill Creek at the same time is being tested to determine the likely source.

It follows a case in Glenorchy last week when people were advised to boil water after the bacteria was detected in the township’s water supply.