Eric Frykberg of RadioNZ reports the NZ Ministry of Health has found Havelock North’s water contamination cost about $21 million – with residents the worst affected.
The campylobacter infection hit the town last August and afflicted more than 5,000 people with illness, filling the hospital and potentially contributing to three deaths.
The investigators measured the next best thing that people could have been doing if they had not been sick. That and the value of direct costs added up to the total figure of $21,029,288.
A report commissioned by the ministry said some 5088 households were affected by the crisis, and the cost to each household was about $2440.
Those costs included the cost of people getting sick and being unable to go to work or school or carry out other tasks.
Some were unable to look after their children, while others had to drive all over town to visit doctors or to get fresh water or other supplies.
They also had to do far more laundry and cleaning.
This left the households to foot a bill of more than $12,420,000 making up the majority of all costs from the crisis.
The report also said not all consequences of the outbreak could be quantified in monetary terms, with personal stress, loss of public faith in the water supply, and “scarring” of the community adding to the societal bill.
The report said about 25 percent of the population of Havelock North was aged over 65 based on the 2013 Census, and the town also had a large number of school aged children.