Why does Marton water sometimes look and taste bad…

February 21, 2022

For many years some residents in Marton have had drinking water that is sometimes brown, smells unpleasant and does not taste very nice. Over the last few weeks, the water coming through the pipes has been worse than usual in some parts of town. Council is working on a long-term plan to fix the problem - you can read more detail about that here - Marton Water Supply Strategy

What is causing the water problems

The main reasons we have experienced drinking water problems in Marton recently are:

  • During the dry summer months, the water levels in the two Marton Dams drops. Periods of heavy summer rainfall (like we had earlier in February) adds a large volume of raw water from the catchment to the Dams in a short period of time, and this affects the raw water that must be treated to produce our drinking water. What we mean by raw water is the water that enters the dam, before any treatment process is undertaken. The treatment plant can produce safe drinking water under these conditions but cannot remove all of the odour and taste that comes from the dams.
  • The chemistry of the dam water is constantly changing; this contributes to the unpleasant odour and taste.
  • During the summer months the water consumption in town is at its highest, and this means the treatment plant is working at its maximum output. It is difficult to make treatment improvements for odour and taste while the plant is operating at maximum output.

We regularly test samples of our drinking water. Analysis of these tests show that the water is safe to drink even though it may not smell or taste as pleasant as people would prefer.

What we are doing to fix the issue happening right now:

  • We are flushing our water supply pipes in the network to make sure all areas are filled with fresh water (water that sits in pipes is not as good quality)
  • We are constantly adjusting the treatment process to achieve the best quality drinking water
  • We are mixing in water from our Tutaenui Bore (water from an underground source), so that the water we treat is better quality to start with
  • We have a water filter system at the Marton RSA and Citizens’ Memorial Hall to help remove some of the unpleasant taste and odour, so residents are able to go and fill their own clean drinking water containers with filtered water.

What we are working on:

  • Our water consumption per capita is higher than it should be, so in 2022, we are investigating where there may be water leaks and plan to fix these. This will reduce demand.
  • We are implementing the Marton Water Strategy, a $11m commitment Council has made in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan to fund improved drinking water for Marton.
    • We are looking for a new water source (groundwater) that will not be affected by the same issues as the Marton dams is (i.e. dry summers or heavy rainfall). We plan on finding the new water source and constructing a new bore this year.
    • We plan to build a new water treatment plant for Marton. The current water treatment plant is old (about 100 years old!). Once the water source has been found, a new treatment plant will be built. It will be designed to deal with the water found in the new bore. The design for the treatment plant is expected to start this year, begin building it in the second half of 2023, and be completed by the middle of 2024.

In the meantime, if you experience problems with your drinking water please advise us by either:

  • Reporting it through our website Report It Form
  • phoning our Customer Experience team on 0800 422 522.

We'll arrange for a crew to come around and flush the mains pipes in your street, if required (while also being mindful that we are currently in the driest part of the year and have to manage our available water carefully).

We don’t monitor the Marton Facebook pages so we urge you to get hold of us directly to advise us of your issue, so we can capture it and respond.