Has the Kāpiti Coast District Council been sitting on news of a cryptosporidium outbreak for a week? Judging by today's events, and the Council's own admissions, it seems so, meaning there's some tough questions to be asked of the Council about when it knew of the risk to the public, and why didn't it notify people sooner?
To put this in perspective, on average around 1,500 people a day use Raumati's splash pad, making it one of the most popular recreational facilities in the district, especially for families with young children.
The first residents in Kāpiti have heard about a possible outbreak of cryptosporidium in the region was a notice sent to parents from schools this morning - 16 February, exactly a week since Raumati's Marine Gardens' splash pad was closed for seemingly innocent "maintenance" work by Kāpiti Coast District Council. In that notice from Regional Public Health - which you can see the full version of here, dated 15 February - while Raumati's splash pad doesn't appear to have been the source of the outbreak, the Council was concerned enough to close it on 9 February for what they called "maintenance".
As you can see in the above post from Council's own Facebook page, they've made no mention of any possible public health issue. From reading this post, you'd assume that something mechanical or plumbing related broke and needed to be fixed, and wouldn't have given it any other thought.
When Kāpiti Coast District Council announced five days later that all had been fixed with the splash pad and that people were free to use it again, there was again no mention of any possible public health issue associated with it.
On hearing the news this morning on visiting a client's office, I put the question to Council via their Facebook page. By their own admission, they knew there was a possible cryptosporidium issue with the splash pad since at least 9 February - the day the splash pad was unexpectedly closed - yet did nothing to inform the public about it.
As a parent who's frequented Raumati's splash pad with my son on numerous occasions (and he loves it as it's an amazing facility) I am absolutely shocked and disgusted that the Council didn't tell the community as soon as they knew there was an issue!
After the high profile Havelock North water crisis, surely the Council should have thought that residents deserved to know about a possible cryptosporidium contamination at the splash pad.
Given Regional Public Health made specific mention of Raumati's splash pad as a possible location where people picked up the parasite as far back as 20 January, that means there could be upwards of 20,000 people, mostly kids, who could have been exposed to cryptosporidium before the Council knew about the issue and decided to act.
You would think that when announcing the closure of the splash pad, the Council had a moral obligation to tell people why it was closed. Had they done so on 9 February when they made the post to Facebook, families who had been to the splash pad since Wellington Anniversary Weekend could monitor themselves and their families for signs of cryptosporidium, and take appropriate action and further halt the spread of the parasite.
That the community is only finding out now, seven days after Council knew of the issue, means that's another seven days infected people could have been using other swimming facilities in the region, including the Ōtaki splash pad, further spreading the infection. Given Kāpiti attracts plenty of tourists over long weekends, it's reasonable to assume that cryptosporidium may have been spread to neighbouring regions too during this time.
The Kāpiti Coast District Council and Mayor Guru have some serious questions to answer about the basic failure to communicate an important issue to the people of Kāpiti. We deserve better!